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ARTHUR 

LLOYD 

HAYDEN 




His Book. 



^^J^ 




BOSTON 
PUBLIC 
LIBRARY 




THE HARVARD CLASSICS 

EDIFED BY CHARLES W ELIOT LL D 

BLAISE PASCAL 

THOUGHTS 

TRANSLATED BY W F TRO [TER 

LETTERS 

TRANSLATED BY M L BOOTH 

MINOR WORKS 

TRANSLATED BY O W WIGHT 

WITH INTRODUCTIONS, NOTES 
AND ILLUSTRATIONS 




UR ELIOT'S FIVE FOOT SHELF OF BOOKS' 



P F COLLIER & SON 
NEW YORK 



Copyright, igio 
By p. F. Collier & Son 



Designed, Printed, and Bound at 

Ctje Collier Pre«s. ^ctu gorfe 



CONTENTS 

THOUGHTS 

Section I ^^^^ 

Thoughts on Mind and Style 7 

Sfxtion H 
The Misery of Man without God 23 

Section IH 
Of the Necessity of the Wager 68 

Section IV 
Of the Means of Belief 90 

Section V 
Justice and the Reason of Effects 104 

Section VI 
The Philosophers 119 

Section VII 
Morality and Doctrine 138 

Section VIII 
The Fundamentals of the Christian Religion .... 184 

2 HC xlviii (a) 



Z CONTENTS 

Section IX ^^^^ 

Perpetuity 197 

Section X 
Typology 218 

Section XI 
The Prophecies 2^7 

Section XII 
Proofs of Jesus Christ 265 

Section XIII 
The Miracles 284 

Section XIV 
Appendix : Polemical Fragments 305 



LETTERS 

1 To His Sister Jacqueline 325 

2 To Mme. Perier 328 

3 To the Same ZZ^ 

4 To Mme. and M. Perier 335 

5 To M. Perier 34^ 

6 To Mme. Perier 347 

7 To the Marchioness de Sable 347 

8 To M. Perier 348 



CONTENTS 3 

VAGI 

9 To Mme Perier 350 

10 To THE Same 351 

11 To Mlle. de Roannez (nine letters) 352 

12 To Queen Christina ^6S 



MINOR WORKS ^ 

1 Epitaph of M. Pascal, Pere 369 

2 Prayer, to Ask of God the Proper Use of Sickness . 370 

3 Comparison Between Christians of Early Times and 

Those of To-Day 378 

4 Discourses on the Condition of the Great 382 

5 On the Conversion of the Sinner 388 

6 Conversation on Epictetus and Montaigne .... 392 

7 The Art of Persuasion 406 

8 Discourse on the Passion of Love 417 

9 Of the Geometrical Spirit 427 

10 Preface to the Treatise on Vacuum 444 

11 New Fragment of the Treatise on Vacuum .... 461 



NOTE 

Passages erased by Pascal are enclosed in square brackets, 
thus [ ]. Words, added or corrected by the editor of the text, 
are similarly denoted. The translation is from the text of 
Brunschvicg. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

Blaise Pascal was horn at Clermont in Auvergne on June 
ig, 1623, the son of the president of the Court of Aids of Cler- 
mont. He was a precocious child, and soon showed amazing 
mathematical talent. His early training was scientific rather than 
literary or theological, and scientific interests predominated dur- 
ing the first period of his activity. He corresponded with the 
most distinguished scholars of the time, and made important con" 
tributions to pure and applied mathematics and to physics. 

Meantime, an accident had brought the Pascal family into 
contact with Jansenist doctrine, and Blaise became an ardent 
convert. Jansenism, which took its name from Jansenius, the 
bishop of Ypres, had its headquarters in the Cistercian Abbey of 
Port-Royal, and was one of the most rigorous and lofty develop- 
ments of post-Reformation CatJiolicism. In doctrine it somewhat 
resembled Calvinism in its insistence on Grace and Predestination 
at the expense of the freedom of the will, and in its cultivation of 
a thoroughgoing logical method of apologetics. In practise it 
represented an austere and even ascetic morality, and it did much 
to raise the ethical and intellectual level of seventeenth century 
France. 

Jansenism was attacked as heretical, especially by the Jesuits; 
and the civil power ultimately took measures to crush the move- 
ment, disbanding the nuns of Port-Royal, and by its persecutions 
affording to many of the Jansenists opportunities for the display 
of a heroic obstinacy. In this struggle Pascal took an important 
part by the publication, under the pseudonym of "Louis de 
Montalte," of a series of eighteen letters, attacking the morality 
of the Jesuits and defending Jansenism against the charge of 
heresy. In spite of the fact that the party for which he fought 
was defeated, in these "Provincial Letters," as they are usually 
called, Pascal inflicted a blow on the Society of Jesus from which 
that order has never entirely recovered. 

Pascal now formed the plan of writing an "Apology for the 
Christian Religion," and during the rest of his life he was col- 
lecting materials and making notes for this work. But he had 
long been feeble in health; in the ardor of his religious devotion 

5 



6 INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

he had undergone incredible hardships; and on August ig, 1662, 
he died in his fortieth year. 

It was from the notes for his contemplated "Apology" that 
the Port-Royalists compiled and edited the hook known as his 
"Pensees" or "Thoughts." The early texts were much tampered 
with, and the material has been frequently rearranged; but now 
at last it is possible to read these fragmentary jottings as they 
came from the hand of their author. In spite of their incomplete" 
ness and frequent incoherence, the " Thoughts ** have long held a 
high place among the great religious classics. Much of the 
theological argument implied in these utterances has little appeal 
to the modern mind, but the acuteness of the observation of 
human life, the subtlety of the reasoning, the combination of 
precision and fervid imagination in the expression, make this a 
book to which the discerning mind can return again and agavi^ 
for insight and inspiration. 



PASCALS THOUGHTS 

SECTION I 
Thoughts on Mind and on Style 



rHE difference between the mathematical and the in- 
tuitive mind. — In the one the principles are palpable, 
but removed from ordinary use; so that for want of 
habit it is difficult to turn one's mind in that direction: but 
if one turns it thither ever so little, one sees the principles 
fully, and one must have a quite inaccurate mind who 
reasons wrongly from principles so plain that it is almost 
impossible they should escape notice. 

But in the intuitive mind the principles are found in 
common use, and are before the eyes of everybody. One 
has only to look, and no effort is necessary; it is only a 
question of good eyesight, but it must be good, for the 
principles are so subtle and so numerous, that it is almost 
impossible but that some escape notice. Now the omission 
of one principle leads to error; thus one must have very 
clear sight to see all the principles, and in the next place 
an accurate mind not to draw false deductions from known 
principles. 

All mathematicians would then be intuitive if they had 
clear sight, for they do not reason incorrectly from prin- 
ciples known to them; and intuitive minds would be mathe- 
matical if they could turn their eyes to the principles of 
mathematics to which they are unused. 

The reason, therefore, that some intuitive minds are not 
mathematical is that they cannot at all turn their attention 
to the principles of mathematics. But the reason that mathe- 
maticians are not intuitive is that they do not see what is 

7 



8 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

before them, and that, accustomed to the exact and plain 
principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have 
well inspected and arranged their principles, they are lost 
in matters of intuition where the principles do not allow 
of such arrangement. They are scarcely seen; they are 
felt rather than seen; there is the greatest difficulty in 
making them felt by those who do not of themselves per- 
ceive them. These principles are so fine and so numerous 
that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to 
perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they 
are perceived, without for the most part being able to 
demonstrate them in order as in mathematics; because 
the principles are not known to us in the same way, and 
because it would be an endless matter to undertake it. We 
must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a 
process of reasoning, at least to a certain degree. And 
thus it is rare that mathematicians are intuitive, and that 
men of intuition are mathematicians, because mathematicians 
wish to treat matters of intuition mathematically, and make 
themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin with definitions and 
then with axioms, which is not the way to proceed in this 
kind of reasoning. Not that the mind does not do so, but it 
does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules; for 
the expression of it is beyond all men, and only a few can 
feel it. 

Intuitive minds, on the contrary, being thus accustomed 
to judge at a single glance, are so astonished when they are 
presented with propositions of which they understand noth- 
ing, and the way to which is through definitions and axioms 
so sterile, and which they are not accustomed to see thus 
in detail, that they are repelled and disheartened. 

But dull minds are never either intuitive or mathe- 
matical. 

Mathematicians who are only mathematicians have exact 
minds, provided all things are explained to them by means 
of definitions and axioms ; otherwise they are inaccurate and 
insufferable, for they are only right when the principles are 
quite clear. 

And men of intuition who are only intuitive cannot have 
the patience to reach to first principles of things speculative 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE 9 

and conceptual, which they have never seen in the world, 
and which are altogether out of the common. 



There are different kinds of right understanding; some 
have right understanding in a certain order of things, and 
not in others, where they go astray. Some draw conclusions 
well from a few premises, and this displays an acute judg- 
ment. 

Others draw conclusions well where there are many 
premises. 

For example, the former easily learn hydrostatics, where 
the premises are few, but the conclusions are so fine that 
only the greatest acuteness can reach them. 

And in spite of that these persons would perhaps not 
be great mathematicians, because mathematics contain a 
great number of premises, and there is perhaps a kind of 
intellect that can search with ease a few premises to the 
bottom: and cannot in the least penetrate those matters 
in which there are many premises. 

There are then two kinds of intellect: the one able to 
penetrate acutely and deeply into the conclusions of given 
premises, and this is the precise intellect; the other able 
to comprehend a great number of premises without con- 
fusing them, and this is the mathematical intellect. The 
one has force and exactness, the other comprehension. Now 
the one quality can exist without the other ; the intellect can 
be strong and narrow, and can also be comprehensive and 
weak. 

3 

Those who are accustomed to judge by feeling do not 
understand the process of reasoning, for they would un- 
derstand at first sight, and are not used to seek for prin- 
ciples. And others, on the contrary, who are accustomed 
to reason from principles, do not at all understand matters 
of feeling, seeking principles, and being unable to see at a 
glance. 



10 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



4 

Mathematics, Intuition. — True eloquence makes ligfit of 
eloquence, true morality makes light of morality; that is 
to say, the morality of the judgment, which has no rules, 
makes light of the morality of the intellect. 

For it is to judgment that perception belongs, as science 
belongs to intellect. Intuition is the part of judgment, mathe- 
matics of intellect. 

To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher. 

5 

Those who judge of a work by rule are in regard to 
, others as those who have a watch are in regard to others. 
* One says, " It is two hours ago ;" the other says, " It is 
only three-quarters of an hour." I look at my watch, and 
say to the one, " You are weary," and to the other, " Time 
gallops with you;" for it is only an hour and a half ago, 
and I laugh at those who tell me that time goes slowly with 
me, and that I judge by imagination. They do not know 
that I judge by my watch. 



Just as we harm the understanding, we harm the feelings 
also. 

The understanding and the feelings are moulded by in- 
tercourse; the understanding and feelings are corrupted by 
intercourse. Thus good or bad society improves or cor- 
rupts them. It is, then, all-important to know how to choose 
in order to improve and not to corrupt them; and we cannot 
make this choice, if they be not already improved and not 
corrupted. Thus a circle is formed, and those are fortunate 
who escape it. 

7 
The greater intellect one has, the more originality one finds 
in men. Ordinary person? Blv^^ nc difference between men. 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE U 



8 

There are many people who listen to a sermon in the 
same way as they listen to ves£ers. 

9 

When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show 
another that he errs, we must notice from what side he 
views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and 
admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on 
which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees 
that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see 
all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; 
but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps 
arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see every- 
thing, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he 
looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always 
true, 

10 

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which 
they have themselves discovered tJian by those which have 
come into the mind of others. 



II 

All great amusements are dangerous to the Christian life; 
but among all those which the world has invented there is 
none more to be feared than the theatre. It is a representa- 
tion of the passions so natural and so delicate that it ex- 
cites them and gives birth to them in our hearts, and, 
above all, to that of love, principally when it is repre- 
sented as very chaste and virtuous. For the more inno- 
cent it appears to innocent souls, the more they are likely 
to be touched by it. Its violence pleases our self-love, 
which immediately forms a desire to produce the same ef- 
fects which are seen so well represented; and, at the same 
time, we make ourselves a conscience founded on the pro- 
priety of the feelings which we see there, by which the 
iear ^f pure souls is removed, since they imagine that it 



12 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

cannot hurt their purity to love with a love which seems 
to them so reasonable. 

So we depart from the theatre with our hearts so filled 
with all the beauty and tenderness of love, the soul and the 
mind so persuaded of its innocence, that we are quite 
ready to receive its first impressions, or rather to seek an 
opportunity of awakening them in the heart of another, 
in order that we may receive the same pleasures and the 
same sacrifices which we have seen so well represented in 
the theatre. 

12 

Scaramouch,* who only thinks of one thing. 

The doctor,* who speaks for a quarter of an hour after 
he has said everything, so full is he of the desire of 
talking. 

13 

One likes to see the error, the passion of Cleobuline,* 
because she is unconscious of it. She would be displeas- 
ing, if she were not deceived. 

14 

When a natural discourse paints a passion or an effect, 
one feels within oneself the truth of what one reads, which 
was there before, although one did not know it. Hence 
one is inclined to love him who makes us feel it, for he has 
not shown us his own riches, but ours. And thus this bene- 
fit renders him pleasing to us, besides that such community 
of intellect as we have with him necessarily inclines the 
heart to love. 

Eloquence, which persuades by sweetness, not by au- 
thority; as a tyrant, not as a king. 

16 

Eloquence is an art of saying things in such a way — 
(i) that those to whom we speak may listen to them with- 

* Stock characters in Italian comedy. 

2 Princess of Corinth, in Mile, de Scud6ry's romance of *' Artamene ou li' 
grand Cyrus." 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE 13 

out pain and with pleasure; (2) that they feel themselves 
interested, so that self-love leads them more willingly to 
reflection upon it. 

It consists, then, in a correspondence which we seek to 
establish between the head and the heart of those to whom 
we speak on the one hand, and, on the other, between the 
thoughts and the expressions which we employ. This as- 
sumes that we have studied well the heart of man so as 
to know all its powers, and then to find the just propor- 
tions of the discourse which we wish to adapt to them. 
We must put ourselves in the place of those who are to 
hear us, and make trial on our own heart of the turn 
which we give to our discourse in order to see whether 
one is made for the other, and whether we can assure our- 
selves that the hearer will be, as it were, forced to sur- 
render. We ought to restrict ourselves, so far as possible, 
to the simple and natural, and not to magnify that which 
is little, or belittle that which is great. It is not enough 
that a thing be beautiful; it must be suitable to the subject, 
and there must be in it nothing of excess or defect. 

17 

Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither 
we desire to go. 

18 

When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is of 
advantage that there should exist a common error which 
determines the mind of man, as, for example, the moon, 
to which is attributed the change of seasons, the progress 
of disease, &c. For the chief malady of man is restless 
curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it 
is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no 
purpose. 

The manner in which Epictetus, Montaigne, and Salomon 
de Tultie' wrote, is the most usual, the most suggestive, 
the most remembered, and the oftenest quoted; because 
it is entirely composed of thoughts born from the common 
talk of life. As when we speak of the common error which 
' The name assumed by Pascal in his " Provincial Letters." 



1« PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

exists among men that the moon is the cause of every- 
thing, we never fail to say that Salomon de Tultie says 
that when we do not know the truth of a thing, it is of 
advantage that there should exist a common error, &c. ; 
which is the thought above. 



19 

The last thing one settles in writing a book is what one 
should put in first. 

20 

Order, — Why should I undertake to divide my virtues 
into four rather than into six? Why should I rather es- 
tablish virtue in four, in two, in one? Why into Abstine 
et sustine* rather than into " Follow Nature," or *' Conduct 
your private affairs without injustice," as Plato, or any- 
thing else ? But there, you will say, everything is contained 
in one word. Yes, but it is useless without explanation, 
and when we come to explain it, as soon as we unfold this 
maxim which contains all the rest, they emerge in that 
first confusion which you desired to avoid. So, when 
they are all included in one, they are hidden and useless, 
as in a chest, and never appear save in their natural con- 
fusion. Nature has established them all without including 
one in the other. 

21 

Nature has made all her truths independent of one another. 
Our art makes one dependent on the other. But this is 
not natural. Each keeps its own place. 

22 

Let no one say that I have said nothing new; the ar- 
rangement of the subject is new. When we play tennis, we 
both play with the same ball, but one of us places it better, 

I had as soon it said that I used words employed before. 
And in the same way if the same thoughts in a different 
arrangement do not form a different discourse, no more do 

* " Abstain and endure " — a Stoic maxim. 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE 15 

the same words in their different arrangement form differ- 
ent thoughts! 

23 

Words differently arranged have a different meaning, and 
meanings differently arranged have different effects. 

24 

Language.— '"Wt should not turn the mind from one thing 
to another, except for relaxation, and that when it is neces- 
sary and the time suitable, and not otherwise. For he that 
relaxes out of season wearies, and he who wearies us out 
of season makes us languid, since we turn quite away. So 
much does our perverse lust like to do the contrary of 
what those wish to obtain from us without giving us pleas- 
ure, the coin for which we will do whatever is wanted. 

25 
Eloquence. — It requires the pleasant and the real; but 
the pleasant must itself be drawn from the true. 

26 

Eloquence is a painting of thought; and thus those who, 
after having painted it, add something more, make a picture 
instead of a portrait. 

27 

Miscellaneous. Language. — Those who make antitheses 
by forcing words are like those who make false windows 
for symmetry. Their rule is not to speak accurately, but to 
make apt figures of speech. 

28 

Symmetry is what we see at a glance; based on the fact 
that there is no reason for any difference, and based also 
on the face of man; whence it happens that symmetry is 
only wanted in breadth, not in height or depth. 



16 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



29 

When we see a natural style, we are astonished and de- 
lighted; for we expected to see an author, and we find a 
man. Whereas those who have good taste, and who seeing 
a book expect to find a man, are quite surprised to find an 
author. Plus poetice quam humane locutus es^ Those hon- 
our nature well, who teach that she can speak on every- 
thing, even on theology. 

30 

We only consult the ear because the heart is wanting. 
The rule is uprightness. 

Beauty of omission, of judgment. 



31 

All the false beauties which we blame in Cicero have 
their admirers, and in great number. 



32 

There is a certain standard of grace and beauty which 
consists in a certain relation between our nature, such 
as it is, weak or strong, and the thing which pleases us. 

Whatever is formed according to this standard pleases 
us, be it house, song, discourse, verse, prose, woman, birds, 
rivers, tree, rooms, dress, &c. Whatever is not made ac- 
cording to this standard displeases those who have good 
taste. 

And as there is a perfect relation between a song and 
a house which are made after a good model because they 
are like this good model, though each after its kind; even 
so there is a perfect relation between things made after 
a bad model. Not that the bad model is unique, for there 
are many; but each bad sonnet, for example, on whatever 
false model it is formed, is just like a woman dressed after 
that model. 

• " You have spoken more poetically than humanly." 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE 17 

Nothing makes us understand better the ridiculousness of 
a false sonnet than to consider nature and the standard, and 
then to imagine a woman or a house made according to 
that standard. 

33 

Poetical beauty. — As we speak of poetical beauty, so 
ought we to speak of mathematical beauty and medical 
beauty. But we do not do so ; and the reason is that we know 
well what is the object of mathematics, and that it consists 
in proofs, and what is the object of medicine, and that 
it consists in healing. But we do not know in what grace 
consists, which is the object of poetry. We do not know 
the natural model which we ought to imitate; and through 
lack of this knowledge, we have coined fantastic terms, 
" The golden age,'* " The wonder of our times," " Fatal," 
&c., and call this jargon poetical beauty. 

But whoever imagines a woman after this model, which 
consists in saying little things in big words, will see a 
pretty girl adorned with mirrors and chains, at whom he 
will smile; because we know better wherein consists the 
charm of woman than the charm of verse. But those 
who are ignorant would admire her in this dress, and there 
are many villages in which she would be taken for the 
queen ; hence we call sonnets made after this model " Vil- 
lage Queens." 

34 

No one passes in the world as skilled in verse unless he 
has put up the sign of a poet, a mathematician, &c. But 
educated people do not want a sign, and draw little dis- 
tinction between the trade of a poet and that of an em- 
broiderer. 

People of education are not called poets or mathematicians, 
&c. ; but they are all these, and judges of all these. No 
one guesses what they are. When they come into society, 
they talk on matters about which the rest are talking. We 
do not observe in them one quality rather than another, 
save when the) have to make use of it. But then we re- 
member it, for it is characteristic of such persons that we 
do not say of them that they are fine speakers, when it 



18 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

is not a question of oratory, and that we say of them that 
they are fine speakers, when it is such a question. 

It is therefore false praise to give a man when we say 
of him, on his entry, that he is a very clever poet; and it is 
a bad sign when a man is not asked to give his judgment 
on some verses. 

35 

We should not be able to say of a man, " He is a mathe- 
matician/' or a " preacher," or " eloquent " ; but that he is 
"a gentleman." That universal quality alone pleases me. 
It is a bad sign when, on seeing a person, you remember 
his book. I would prefer you to see no quality till you 
meet it and have occasion to use it, (Ne quid nimiSj^) for 
fear some one quality prevail and designate the man. Let 
none think him a fine speaker, unless oratory be in question, 
and then let them think it. 

36 

Man is full of wants: he loves only those who can satisfy 
them all. " This one is a good mathematician," one will 
say. But I have nothing to do with mathematics ; he would 
take me for a proposition. "That one is a good soldier." 
He would take me for a besieged town. I need then an 
upright man who can accommodate himself generally to all 
my wants. 

37 

Since we cannot be universal and know all that is to be 
known of everything, we ought to know a little about every- 
thing. For it is far better to know something about every- 
thing than to know all about one thing. This universality 
is the best. If we can have both, still better; but if we 
must choose, we ought to choose the former. And the 
world feels this and does so; for the world is often a 
good judge. 

38 

A poet and not an honest man. 

•"Nothing in excess." 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE 19 

39 

If lightning fell on low places, &c., poets, and those who 
can only reason about things of that kind, would lack 
proofs. 

40 

If we wished to prove the examples which we take to 
prove other things, we should have to take those other 
things to be examples; for, as we always believe the dif- 
ficulty is in what we wish to prove, we find the examples 
clearer and a help to demonstration. 

Thus when we wish to demonstrate a general theorem, 
we must give the rule as applied to a particular case; but 
if we wish to demonstrate a particular case, we must begin 
with the general rule. For we always find the thing obscure 
which we wish to prove, and that clear which we use for 
the proof; for, when a thing is put forward to be proved, 
we first fill ourselves with the imagination that it is there- 
fore obscure, and on the contrary that what is to prove it 
is clear, and so we understand it easily. 



41 

Epigrams of Martial. — Man loves malice, but not against 
One-eyed men nor the unfortunate, but against the fortunate 
and proud. People are mistaken in thinking otherwise. 

For lust is the source of all our actions, and humanity, 
&c. We must please those who have humane and tender 
feeling. That epigram about two one-eyed people is 
worthless, for it does not console them, and only gives a 
point to the author's glory. All that is only for the sake 
of the author is worthless. Amhitiosa recident ornamental 



42 

To call a king " Prince " is pleasing, because it diminishes 
his rank. 

• ** They cut ofiF superfluous ornament " — Horace, 



20 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

43 
Certain authors, speaking of their works, say, " My 
feook,'" " My commentary," " My history," &c. They re- 
semble middle-class people who have a house of their own, 
and always have " My house " on their tongue. They would 
do better to say, " Our book " " Our commentary," " Our 
history," &c., because there is in them usually more of other 
people's than their own. 

44 
Do you wish people to believe good of you? Don't speak. 

45 
Languages are ciphers, wherein letters are not changed 
into letters, but words into words, so that an unknown 
language is decipherable. 

46 

A maker of witticisms, a bad character. 

47 

There are some who speak well and write badly. For 
the place and the audience warm them, and draw from their 
minds more than they think of without that warmth. 

48 

When we find words repeated in a discourse, and, in try- 
ing to correct them, discover that they are so appropriate 
that we would spoil the discourse, we must leave them 
alone. This is the test; and our attempt is the work of 
envy, which is blind, and does not see that repetition is 
' not in this place a fault; for there is no general rule. 

49 

To mask nature and disguise her. No more king, pope, 
bishop, — but august monarch, &c. ; not Paris, — the capital 
of the kingdom. There are places in which we ought to call 



ON MIND AND ON STYLE 21 

Paris, Paris, and others in which we ought to call it the 
capital of the kingdom. 

The same meaning changes with the words which ex- 
press it. Meanings receive their dignity from words instead 
of giving it to them. Examples should be sought. 

51 

Sceptic, for obstinate. 

No one calls another a Cartesian but he who is not one 
himself, a pedant but a pedant, a provincial but a provincial ; 
and I would wager it was the printer who put it on the title 
of Letters to a Provincial. 

53 
A carriage upset or overturned, according to the mean- 
ing. To spread abroad or upset, according to the meaning. 
(The argument by force of M. le Maitre over the friar.) 

54 
Miscellaneous. — A form of speech, " I should have liked 
to apply myself to that." 

55 

The aperitive virtue of a key, the attractive virtue of a 
hook. 

56 

To guess : " The part that I take in your trouble." The 
Cardinal* did not want to be guessed. 

"My mind is disquieted." I am disquieted is better. 

57 
I always feel uncomfortable under such compliments as 
these : " I have given you a great deal of trouble," " I am 
afraid I am boring you," "I fear this is too long." We 
either carry our audience with us, or irritate them. 

* Cardinal Mazarin, 



J2 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

58 

You are ungraceful : " Excuse me, pray/' Without that 
excuse I would not have known there was anything amiss. 
"With reverence be it spoken ..." The only thing bad 
is their excuse. 

59 

"To extinguish the torch of sedition;" too luxuriant. 
"The restlessness of his genius;" two superfluous grand 
words. 



SECTION II 
The Misery of Man without God 

60 

TyMRST part: Misery of man without God. 
ji Second part: Happiness of man with God. 

Or, First part: That nature is corrupt. Proved by 
nature itself. 
Second part: That there is a Redeemer. Proved by 
Scripture. 

61 

Order. — I might well have taken this discourse in an 
order like this ; to show the vanity of all conditions of men, 
to show the vanity of ordinary lives, and then the vanity of 
philosophic lives, sceptics, stoics; but the order would not 
have been kept. I know a little what it is, and how few 
people understand it. No human science can keep it. Saint 
Thomas did not keep it. Mathematics keep it, but they are 
useless on account of their depth. 

62 

Preface to the first part, — To speak of those who have 
treated of the knowledge of self ; of the divisions of Charron, 
which sadden and weary us ; of the confusion of Montaigne ; 
that he was quite aware of his want of method, and shunned 
it by jumping from subject to subject; that he sought to be 
fashionable. 

His foolish project of describing himself! And this not 
casually and against his maxims, since every one makes 
mistakes, but by his maxims themselves, and by first and 
chief design. For to say silly things by chance and weakness 
is a common misfortune; but to say them intentionally is 
intolerable, and to say such as that . . . 

aa 



2t PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

63 

Montaigne. — Montaigne's faults are great. Lewd words; 
this is bad, notwithstanding Mademoiselle de Goumay.* 
Credulous; people without eyes. Ignorant; squaring the 
circle, a greater world. His opinions on suicide, on death. 
He suggests an indifference about salvation, without fear 
and without repentance. As his book was not written with 
a religious purpose, he was not bound to mention religion; 
but it is always our duty not to turn men from it. One can 
excuse his rather free and licentious opinions on some 
relations of life (730, 231) ; but one cannot excuse his 
thoroughly pagan views on death, for a man must renounce 
piety altogether, if he does not at least wish to die like a 
Christian. Now, through the whole of his book his only 
conception of death is a cowardly and effeminate one. 

64 

It is not in Montaigne, but in myself, that I find all that I 
see in him. 

65 

What good there is in Montaigne can only have been 
acquired with difficulty. The evil that is in him, I mean 
apart from his morality, could have been corrected in a 
moment, if he had been informed that he made too much of 
trifles and spoke too much of himself. 

66 

One must know oneself. If this does not serve to dis- 
cover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is 
nothing better. 

67 

The vanity of the sciences. — Physical science will not 
console me for the ignorance of morality in the time of 
affliction. But the science of ethics will always console 
me for the ignorance of the physical sciences. 

^ Montaigne's adopted daughter, who defends him in a Preface which she 
added to his Essays. 



MISERY OP MAN WITHOUT GOD 25 

68 

Men are never taught to be gentlemen, and are taught 
everything else; and they never plume themselves so much 
on the rest of their knowledge as on knowing how to be 
gentlemen. They only plume themselves on knowing the 
one thing they do not know. 

69 

The inHnites, the mean. — ^When we read too fast or too 
slowly, we understand nothing. 

70 

Nature , . . — [Nature has set us so well in the centre, 
that if we chang<^ one side of the balance, we change the 
other also. / act. Td ^Qa rpi^^t* This makes me believe 
that the springs in our brain are so adjusted that he who 
touches one touches also its contrary.] 

71 

Too much and too little wine. Give him none, he can- 
not find truth; give him too much, the same. 

72 
Man's disproportion. — [This is where our innate knowl- 
edge leads us. If it be not true, there is no truth in man; 
and if it be true, he finds therein great cause for humiliation, 
being compelled to abase himself in one way or another. 
And since he cannot exist without this knowledge, I wish 
that, before entering on deeper researches into nature, he 
would consider her both seriously and at leisure, that he 
would reflect upon himself also, and knowing what propor- 
tion there is . , „ .] Let man then contemplate the whole 
of nature in her full and grand majesty, and turn his vision 
from the low objects which surround him. Let him gaze on 
that brilliant light, set like an eternal lamp to illumine 

•"Animals ran.* 



26 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

the universe ; let the earth appear to him a point in compari- 
son with the vast circle described by the sun; and let him 
wonder at the fact that this vast circle is itself but a very- 
fine point in comparison with that described by the stars in 
their revolution round the firmament. But if our view be 
arrested there, let our imagination pass beyond ; it will sooner 
exhaust the power of conception than nature that of supply- 
ing material for conception. The whole visible world is 
only an imperceptible atom in the ample bosom of nature. 
No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions 
beyond all imaginable space ; we only produce atoms in com- 
parison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, 
the centre of which is everywhere, the circumference no- 
where. In short it is the greatest sensible mark of the 
almighty power of God, that imagination loses itself in that 
thought. 

P.fturning to himself, let man consider what he is in 
coi^i?ji::'::on with all existence; let him regard himself as 
lost in this remote corner of nature ; and from the little cell 
in which he finds himself lodged, I mean the universe, let 
him estimate at their true value the earth, kingdoms, cities, 
and himself. What is a man in the Infinite? 

But to show him another prodigy equally astonishing, let 
him examine the most delicate things he knows. Let a mite 
be given him, with its minute body and parts incomparably 
more minute, limbs with their joints, veins in the limbs, 
blood in the veins, humours in the blood, drops in the 
humours, vapours in the drops. Dividing these last things 
again, let him exhaust his powers of conception, and let 
the last object at which he can arrive be now that of our 
discourse. Perhaps he will think that here is the smallest 
point in nature. I will let him see therein a new abyss. I 
will paint for him not only the visible universe, but all that 
he can conceive of nature's immensity in the womb of this 
abridged atom. Let him see therein an infinity of universes, 
each of which has its firmament, its planets, its earth, in the 
same proportion as in the visible world; in each earth ani- 
mals, and in the last mites, in which he will find again all 
that the first had, finding still in these others the same thing 
without end and without cessation. Let him lose himself in 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 27 

wonders as amazing in their littleness as the others in 
their vastness. For who will not be astounded at the fact 
that our body, which a little ago was imperceptible in the 
universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is 
now a colossus, a world, or rather a whole, in respect 
of the nothingness which we cannot reach? He who regards 
himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing 
himself sustained in the body given him by nature between 
those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble 
at the sight of these marvels ; and I think that, as his 
curiosity changes into admiration, he will be more disposed 
to contemplate them in silence than to examine them with 
presumption. 

For in fact what is man in nature? A Nothing in com- 
parison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the 
Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything. Since 
he is infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, 
the end of things and their beginning are hopelessly hidden 
from him in an impenetrable secret; he is equally inca- 
pable of seeing the Nothing from which he was made, and 
the Infinite in which he is swallowed up. 

What will he do then, but perceive the appearance of the 
middle of things, in an eternal despair of knowing either 
their beginning or their end. All things proceed from the 
Nothing, and are borne towards the Infinite. Who will 
follow the.^e marvellous processes? The Author of these 
wonders understands them. None other can do so. 

Through failure to contemplate these Infinites, men have 
rashly rushed into the examination of nature, as though 
they bore some proportion to her. It is strange that they 
have wished to understand the beginnings of things, and 
thence to arrive at the knowledge of the whole, with a 
presumption as infinite as their object. For surely this 
design cannot be formed without presumption or without 
a capacity infinite like nature. 

if we are; well-informed, we understand that, as nature 
has graven her image and that of her Author on all things, 
they almost all partake of her double infinity. Thus we see 
that all the sciences are infinite in the extent of their re- 
searches. For who doubts that geometry, for instance, has 



28 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

an infinite infinity of problems to solve? They are also in- 
finite in the multitude and fineness of their premises; for it 
is clear that those which are put forward as ultimate are not 
self-supporting, but are based on others which, again having 
others for their support, do not permit of finality. But 
we represent some as ultimate for reason, in the same way 
as in regard to material objects we call that an indivisible 
point beyond which our senses can no longer perceive any- 
thing, although by its nature it is infinitely divisible. 

Of these two Infinites of science, that of greatness is the 
most palpable, and hence a few persons have pretended 
to know all things. " I will speak of the whole," said 
Democritus. 

But the infinitely little is the least obvious. Philosophers 
have much oftener claimed to have reached it, and it is 
here they have all stumbled. This has given rise to such 
common titles as First Principles, Principles of Philosophy, 
and the like, as ostentatious in fact, though not in appear- 
ance, as that one which blinds us, De omni scibili* 

We naturally believe ourselves far more capable of reach- 
ing the centre of things than of embracing their circumfer- 
ence. The visible extent of the world visibly exceeds us, 
but as we exceed little things, we think ourselves more ca- 
pable of knowing them. And yet we need no less capacity for 
attaining the Nothing than the All. Infinite capacity is 
required for both, and it seems to me that whoever shall 
have understood the ultimate principles of being might also 
attain to the knowledge of the Infinite. The one depends 
on the other, and one leads to the other. These extremes 
meet and reunite by force of distance, and find each other 
in God, and in God alone. 

Let us then take our compass ; we are something, and we 
are not everything. The nature of our existence hides from 
us the knowledge of first beginnings which are born of the 
Nothing; and the littleness of our being conceals from us 
the sight of the Infinite. 

Our intellect holds the same position in the world of 
thought as our body occupies in the expanse of nature. 

' " Concerning everything knowable " — the title under which Pico della 
Mirandola announced the 900 propositions which he undertook to defend 
in i486. 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 29 

Limited as we are in every way, this state which holds 
the mean between two extremes is present in all our im- 
potence. Our senses perceive no extreme. Too much sound 
deafens us; too much light dazzles us; too great distance 
or proximity hinders our view. Too great length and too 
great brevity of discourse tend to obscurity; too much truth 
is paralysing; (I know some who cannot understand that 
to take four from nothing leaves nothing). First principles 
are too self-evident for us; too much pleasure disagrees 
with us. Too many concords are annoying in music; too 
many benefits irritate us; we wish to have the wherewithal 
to over-pay our debts. Beneficia eo usque Iceta sunt dum 
videntur exsolvi posse; uhi multum antevenere, pro gratia 
odium redditur* We feel neither extreme heat nor extreme 
cold. Excessive qualities are prejudicial to us and not per- 
ceptible by the senses ; we do not feel but suffer them. Ex- 
treme youth and extreme age hinder the mind, as also too 
much and too little education. In short, extremes are for 
us as though they were not, and we are not within their 
notice. They escape us, or we them. 

This is our true state; this is what makes us incapable 
of certain knowledge and of absolute ignorance. We sail 
within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven 
from end to end. When we think to attach ourselves to any 
point and to fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us ; and if we 
follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes 
for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condi- 
tion, and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn 
with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure 
foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the In- 
finite. But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth 
opens to abysses. 

Let us therefore not look for certainty and stability. Our 
reason is always deceived by fickle shadows; nothing can 
fix the finite between the two Infinites, which both enclose 
and fly from it. 

If this be well understood, I think that we shall remain 
at rest, each in the state wherein nature has placed him. 

♦"Benefits are pleasant while It seems possible to requite them; when 
they become much greater, they produce hatred rather than gratitude. — 
Tacitus. 



30 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

As this sphere which has fallen to us as our lot is always 
distant from either extreme, what matters it that man 
should have a little more knowledge of the universe? If he 
has it, he but gets a little higher. Is he not always infinitely 
removed from the end, and is not the duration of our life 
equally removed from eternity, even if it lasts ten years 
longer? 

In comparison with these Infinites all finites are equal, 
and I see no reason for fixing our imagination on one more 
i than on another. The only comparison which we make of 
ourselves to the finite is painful to us. 

If man made himself the first object of study, he would 
see how incapable he is of going further. How can a part 
know the whole? But he may perhaps aspire to know at 
least the parts to which he bears some proportion. But the 
parts of the world are all so related and linked to one 
another, that I believe it impossible to know one without 
the other and without the whole. 

Man, for instance, is related to all he knows. He needs 
a place wherein to abide, time through which to live, motion 
in order to live, elements to compose him, warmth and food 
to nourish him, air to breathe. He sees light; he feels 
bodies; in short, he is in a dependant alliance with every- 
thing. To know man, then, it is necessary to know how it 
happens that he needs air to live, and, to know the air, 
we must know how it is thus related to the life of man, etc. 
Flame cannot exist without air; therefore to understand 
the one, we must understand the other. 

Since everything then is cause and effect, dependant and 
supporting, mediate and immediate, and all is held together 
by a natural though imperceptible chain, which binds to- 
gether things most distant and most different, I hold it 
equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the 
whole, and to know the whole without knowing the parts 
in detail. 

[The eternity of things in itself or in God must also aston- 
ish our brief duration. The fixed and constant immobility 
of nature, in comparison with the continual change which 
goes on within us, must have the same effect.] 

And what completes our incapability of knowing things. 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 31 

IS the fact that they are simple, and that we are composed 
of two opposite natures, different in kind, soul and body. 
For it is impossible that our rational part should be other 
than spiritual; and if any one maintain that we are simply 
corporeal, this would far more exclude us from the knowl- 
edge of things, there being nothing so inconceivable as to 
say that matter knows itself. It is impossible to imagine 
how it should know itself. 

So if we are simply material, we can know nothing at all ; 
and if we are composed of mind and matter, we cannot 
know perfectly things which are simple, whether spiritual 
or corporeal. Hence it comes that almost all philosophers 
have confused ideas of things, and speak of material things 
in spiritual terms, and of spiritual things in material terms. 
For they say boldly that bodies have a tendency to fall, that 
they seek after their centre, that they fly from destruction, 
that they fear the void, that they have inclinations, sym- 
pathies, antipathies, all of which attributes pertain only to 
mind. And in speaking of minds, they consider them as in a 
place, and attribute to them movement from one place to 
another ; and these are qualities which belong only to bodies. 

Instead of receiving the ideas of these things in their 
purity, we colour them with our own qualities, and stamp 
with our composite being all the simple things which we 
contemplate. 

Who would not think, seeing us compose all things of mind 
and body, but that this mixture would be quite intelligible to 
us? Yet it is the very thing we least understand. Man is 
to himself the most wonderful object in nature; for he 
cannot conceive what the body is, still less what the mind 
is, and least of all how a body should be united to a mind. 
This is the consummation of his difficulties, and yet it is 
his very being. Modus quo corporibus adhcerent spiritus 
comprehendi ab hominibus non potest, et hoc tamen homo 
est* Finally, to complete the proof of our weakness, I shall 
conclude with these two considerations . . . 

• ** The manner in which spirits are united to bodies cannot be under 
Stood by men, yet such is man." — St. Augustine. 



32 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

73 

[But perhaps this subject goes beyond the capacity of 
reason. Let us therefore examine her solutions to problems 
within her powers. If there be anything to which her own 
interest must have made her apply herself most seriously, 
it is the inquiry into her own sovereign good. Let us see, 
then, wherein these strong and clear-sighted souls have 
placed it, and whether they agree. 

One says that the sovereign good consists in virtue, an- 
other in pleasure, another in the knowledge of nature, an- 
other in truth, Felix qui potuit reriim cognoscere causas* 
another in total ignorance, another in indolence, others in 
disregarding appearances, another in wondering at nothing, 
nihil admirari prope res una qiice possif facere el servare 
heatumj and the true sceptics in their indifference, doubt, 
and perpetual suspense, and others, wiser, think to find a 
better definition. We are well satisfied. 

To transpose after the laws to the follozving title. 

We must see if this fine philosophy have gained nothing 
certain from so long and so intent study; perhaps at least 
the soul will know itself. Let us hear the rulers of the 
world on this subject. What have they thought of her sub- 
stance? 394.* Have they been more fortunate in locating 
her? 395. What have they found out about her origin, 
duration, and departure? 399.* 

Is then the soul too noble a subject for their feeble lights? 
Let us then abase her to matter and see if she knows where- 
of is made the very body which she animates, and those 
others which she contemplates and moves at her will. What 
have those great dogmatists, who are ignorant of nothing, 
known of this matter? Harum sententiarum, 393.* 

This would doubtless suffice, if reason were reasonable. 
She is reasonable enough to admit that she has been unable 
to find anything durable, but she does not yet despair of 
reaching it; she is as ardent as ever in this search, and is 
confident she has within her the necessary powers for this 

• " Happy he who could understand the causes of things." — Virgil. 
' " To wonder at nothing is almost the only thing which can make and 
keep a man happy." — Horace. 

•References to Montaigne's Essays, ii. 12. 

HC XLVIII (a) 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 33 

conquest. We must therefore conclude, and, after having 
examined her powers in their effects, observe them in them- 
selves, and see if she has a nature and a grasp capable of 
laying hold of the truth.] 

74 

A letter on the foolishness of human knowledge and 
philosophy. 

This letter before Diversion. 

Felix qui potiiit^ . . . Nihil admirari^ 

280 kinds of sovereign good in Montaigne. 

75 

Part I., I, 2, c. I, section 4. 

[Probability. — it will not be difficult to put the case a 
stage lower, and make it appear ridiculous. To begin at 
the very beginning.] What is more absurd than to say that 
lifeless bodies have passions, fears, hatreds, — that insensible 
bodies, lifeless and incapable of life, have passions which 
presuppose at least a sensitive soul to feel them, nay more, 
that the object of their dread is the void? What is there in 
the void that could make them afraid? Nothing is more 
shallow and ridiculous. This is not all; it is said that they 
have in themselves a source of movement to shun the 
void. Have they arms, legs, muscles, nerves? 



To write against those who made too profound a study 
of science. Descartes. 

77 
I cannot forgive Descartes. In all his philosophy he would 
have been quite willing to dispense with God. But he had 
to make Him give a fillip to set the world in motion; be- 
yond this, he has no further need of God. 

78 

Descartes useless and uncertain. 

HC XLVIII (B) 



34 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

79 

[Descartes, — We must say summarily: "This is made 
by figure and motion," for it is true. But to say what these 
are, and to compose the machine, is ridiculous. For it is 
useless, uncertain, and painful. And were it true, we do 
not think all philosophy is worth one hour of pain.] 

80 

How comes it that a cripple does not offend us, but that 
a fool does? Because a cripple recognizes that we walk 
straight, whereas a fool declares that it is we who are silly; 
if it were not so, we should feel pity and not anger. 

Epictetus asks still more strongly : " Why are we not 
angry if we are told that we have a headache, and why 
are we angry if we are told that we reason badly, or choose 
wrongly ? " The reason is that we are quite certain that we 
have not a headache, or are not lame, but we are not so 
sure that we make a true choice. So having assurance only 
because we see with our whole sight, it puts us into sus- 
pense and surprise when another with his whole sight sees 
the opposite, and still more so when a thousand others 
deride our choice. For we must prefer our own lights to 
those of so many others, and that is bold and difficult. There 
is never this contradiction in the feelings towards a cripple. 

81 

It is natural for the mind to believe, and for the will to 
love; so that, for want of true objects, they must attach 
themselves to false. 

82 

Imagination. — It is that deceitful part in man, that mis- 
tress of error and falsity, the more deceptive that she is 
not always so; for she would be an infallible rule of truth, 
if she were an infallible rule of falsehood. But being most 
generally false, she gives no sign of her nature, impressing 
the same character on the true and the false. 

I do not speak of fools, I speak of the wisest men ; and it 



MISERY OP MAN WITHOUT GOD 35 

IS among them that the imagination has the great gift of 
persuasion. Reason protests in vain; it cannot set a true 
value on things. 

This arrogant power, the enemy of reason, who Hkes to 
rule and dominate it, has established in man a second nature 
to show how all-powerful she is. She makes men happy 
and sad, healthy and sick, rich and poor ; she compels reason 
to believe, doubt, and deny ; she blunts the senses, or quick- 
ens them; she has her fools and sages; and nothing vexes 
us more than to see that she fills her devotees with a satis- 
faction far more full and entire than does reason. Those 
who have a lively imagination are a great deal more pleased 
with themselves than the wise can reasonably be. They 
look down upon men with haughtiness; they argue with 
boldness and confidence, others with fear and diffidence ; and 
this gaiety of countenance often gives them the advantage 
in the opinion of the hearers, such favour have the imaginary 
wise in the eyes of judges of like nature. Imagination 
cannot make fools wise; but she can make them happy, to 
the envy of reason which can only make its friends miser- 
able ; the one covers them with glory, the other with shame. 

What but this faculty of imagination dispenses reputation, 
awards respect and veneration to persons, works, laws, and 
the great? How insufficient are all the riches of the earth 
without her consent! 

Would you not say that this magistrate, whose venerable 
age commands the respect of a whole people, is governed 
by pure and lofty reason, and that he judges causes accord- 
ing to their true nature without considering those mere 
trifles which only affect the imagination of the weak ? See 
him go to sermon, full of devout zeal, strengthening his 
reason with the ardour of his love. He is ready to listen 
with exemplary respect. Let the preacher appear, and let 
nature have given him a hoarse voice or a comical cast of 
countenance, or let his barber have given him a bad shave, 
or let by chance his dress be more dirtied than usual, then 
however great the truths he announces, I wager our senator 
lose his gravity. , 

If the greatest philosopher in the world find himself upon 
a plank wider than actually necessary, but hanging over a 



36 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

precipice, his imagination will prevail, though his reason 
convince him of his safety. Many cannot bear the thought 
without a cold sweat. I will not state all its effects. 

Every one knows that the sight of cats or rats, the crush- 
ing of a coal, etc., may unhinge the reason. The tone of 
voice affects the wisest, and changes the force of a discourse 
or a poem. 

Love or hate alters the aspect of justice. How much 
greater confidence has an advocate, retained with a large 
fee, in the justice of his cause! How much better does his 
bold manner make his case appear to the judges, deceived 
as they are by appearances ! How ludicrous is reason, 
blown with a breath in every direction ! 

I should have to enumerate almost every action of men 
who scarce waver save under her assaults. For reason has 
been obliged to yield, and the wisest reason takes as her 
own principles those which the imagination of man has 
everywhere rashly introduced. [He who would follow 
reason only would be deemed foolish by the generality of 
men. We must judge by the opinion of the majority of 
mankind. Because it has pleased them, we must work all 
day for pleasures seen to be imaginary; and after sleep has 
refreshed our tired reason, we must forthwith start up and 
rush after phantoms, and suffer the impressions of this mis- 
tress of the world. This is one of the sources of error, but 
it is not the only one.] 

Our magistrates have known well this mystery. Their 
red robes, the ermine in which they wrap themselves like 
furry cats, the courts in which they administer justice, the 
Ueurs-de-lis, and all such august apparel were necessary; 
if the physicians had not their cassocks and their mules, if 
the doctors had not their square caps and their robes four 
times too wide, they would never have duped the world, 
which cannot resist so original an appearance. If magis- 
trates had true justice, and if physicians had the true art of 
healing, they would have no occasion for square caps; the 
majesty of these sciences would of itself be venerable 
enough. But having only imaginary knowledge, they must 
employ those silly tools that strike the imagination with 
which they have to deal; and thereby in fact they inspire 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 37 

respect. Soldiers alone are not disguised in this manner, 
because indeed their part is the most essential ; they establish 
themselves by force, the others by show. 

Therefore our kings seek out no disguises. They do not 
mask themselves in extraordinary costumes to appear such; 
but they are accompanied by guards and halberdiers. Those 
armed and red-faced puppets who have hands and power 
for them alone, those trumpets and drums which go before 
them, and those legions round about them, make the stoutest 
tremble. They have not dress only, they have might. A 
very refined reason is required to regard as an ordinary man 
the Grand Turk, in his superb seraglio, surrounded by forty 
thousand janissaries. 

We cannot even see an advocate in his robe and with his 
cap on his head, without a favourable opinion of his ability. 
The imagination disposes of everything; it makes beauty, 
justice, and happiness, which is everything in the world. I 
should much like to see an Italian work, of which I only 
know the title, which alone is worth many books, Delia 
opinione regina del mondo,* I approve of the book without 
knowing it, save the evil in it, if any. These are pretty 
much the effects of that deceptive faculty, which seems to 
have been expressly given us to lead us into necessary error. 
We have, however, many other sources of error. 

Not only are old impressions capable of misleading us; 
the charms of novelty have the same power. Hence arise 
all the disputes of men, who taunt each other either with 
following the false impressions of childhood, or with run- 
ning rashly after the new. Who keeps the due mean? 
Let him appear and prove it. There is no principle, how- 
ever natural to us from infancy, which may not be made to 
pass for a false impression either of education or of sense. 

" Because," say some, ** you have believed from childhood 
that a box was empty when you saw nothing in it, you have 
believed in the possibility of a vacuum. This is an illusion 
of your senses, strengthened by custom, which science must 
correct." " Because," say others, ** you have been taught at 
school that there is no vacuum, you have perverted your 

• •* On opinion, queen of the world.** The book has not been certainly 
identified. 



as PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

common sense which clearly comprehended it, and you must 
correct this by returning to your first state/' Which has 
deceived you, your senses or your education? 

We have another source of error in diseases. They spoil 
the judgment and the senses; and if the more serious 
produce a sensible change, I do not doubt that slighter ills 
produce a proportionate impression. 

Our own interest is again a marvellous instrument for 
nicely putting out our eyes. The justest man in the world 
is not allowed to be judge in his own cause; I know some 
who, in order not to fall into this self-love, have been per- 
fectly unjust out of opposition. The sure way of losing a 
just cause has been to get it recommended to these men by 
their near relatives. 

Justice and truth are two such subtle points, that our 
tools are too blunt to touch them accurately. If they reach 
the point, they either crush it, or lean all round, more on 
the false than on the true. 

[Man Is so happily formed that he has no . . . good of 
the true, and several excellent of the false. Let us now see 
how much . . . But the most powerful cause of error is 
the war existing between th@ senses and reason.] 



We must thus begin the chapter on the deceptive powers. 
Man is only a subject full of error, natural and ineffaceable, 
without grace. Nothing shows him the truth. Everything 
deceives him. These two sources of truth, reason and the 
senses, besides being both wanting in sincerity, deceive each 
other in turn. The senses mislead the reason with false 
appearances, and receive from reason in their turn the same 
trickery which they apply to her; reason has her revenge. 
The passions of the soul trouble the senses, and make false 
impressions upon them. They rival each other in falsehood 
and deception. 

But besides those errors which arise accidentally and 
through lack of intelligence, with these heterogeneous 
faculties « , » 



MISERY OP MAN WITHOUT GOD 3» 

84 

The imagination enlarges little objects so as to fill our 
soul with a fantastic estimate; and, with rash insolence, it 
belittles the great to its own measure, as when talking of 
God. 

Things which have most hold on us, as the concealment 
of our few possessions, are often a mere nothing. It is a 
nothing which our imagination magnifies into a mountain. 
Another turn of the imagination would make us discover 
this without difficulty. 

86 

[My fancy makes me hate a croaker, and one who pants 
when eating. Fancy has great weight. Shall we profit by 
it? Shall we yield to this weight because it is natural? 
No, but by resisting it. . . .] 

87 

Quasi quidquam infelicius sit homini cui sua figmenta 
dominantur^ (Plin.) 

88 

Children who are frightened at the face they have black* 
cned are but children. But how shall one who is so weak 
in his childhood become really strong when he grows older ? 
We only change our fancies. All that is made perfect by 
progress perishes also by progress. All that has been weak 
can never become absolutely strong. We say in vain, " He 
has grown, he has changed " ; he is also the same. 

89 

Custom IS our nature. He who is accustomed to the faith 
believes in it, can no longer fear hell, and believes in nothing 
else. He who is accustomed to believe that the king is ter- 
rible . . . &c. Who doubts then that our soul, being ac- 

^ ** As if anything more unfortunate could happen to a man ruled by \m 
own fancies." 



40 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

customed to see number, space, motion, believes that and 
nothing else? 

90 

Quod crehro videt non miratiir, etiamsi cur fiat nescit; 
quod ante non viderit, id si evenerit, ost&ntum esse censet^ 
(Cic. 583.) 

N(B iste magno conatu magnas nugas dixerit." 



91 

Spongia solis^^ — 'When we see the same effect always 
recur, we infer a natural necessity in it, as that there will 
be a to-morrow, &c. But nature often deceives us, and does 
not subject herself to her own rules. 

What are our natural principles but principles of custom? 
In children they are those which they have received from 
the habits of their fathers, as hunting in animals. A dif- 
ferent custom will cause different natural principles. This 
is seen in experience; and if there are some natural prin- 
ciples ineradicable by custom, there are also some customs 
opposed to nature, ineradicable by nature, or by a second 
custom. This depends on disposition. 



93 
Parents fear lest the natural love of their children may 
fade away. What kind of nature is that which is subject to 
decay? Custom is a second nature which destroys the 
former. But what is nature? For is custom not natural? 
I am much afraid that nature is itself only a first custom, as 
custom is a second nature. 

" " What a man sees often he does not wonder at, although he knows 
not why it happens; if something occurs which he has not seen before, he 
thinks it a marvel." , 

12 ♦« Verily, that man wil! have uttered great trifles with huge effort. '— 
Terence. 

" " Spots on the sun." 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 41 



94 

The nakire of man is wholly natural, omne animal}* 
There is nothing he may not make natural; there is 
nothing natural he may not lose. 



95 

Memory, joy, are intuitions; and even mathematical propo- 
sitions become intuitions, for education produces natural 
intuitions, and natural intuitions are erased by education. 



96 

When we are accustomed to use bad reasons for proving 
natural effects, we are not willing to receive good reasons 
when they are discovered. An example may be given from 
the circulation of the blood as a reason why the vein swells 
below the ligature. 

97 

The most important affair in life is the choice of a calling; 
chance decides it. Custom makes men masons, soldiers, 
slaters. " He is a good slater," says one, and, speaking of 
soldiers, remarks, " They are perfect fools." But others 
affirm, "There is nothing great but war, the rest of men 
are good-for-nothing." We choose our callings according 
as we hear this or that praised or despised in our childhood, 
for we naturally love truth and hate folly. These words 
move us; the only error is in their application. So great is 
the force of custom that out of those whom nature has only 
made men, are created all conditions of men. For some 
districts are full of masons, others of soldiers, &c. Cer- 
tainly nature is not so uniform. It is custom then which 
does this, for it constrains nature. But sometimes nature 
gains the ascendency, and preserves man's instinct, in spite 
of all custom, good or bad. 

****AU animaJ.** 



48 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Bias leading to error. It is a deplorable thing to see all 
men deliberating on means alone, and not on the end. Each 
thinks how he will acquit himself in his condition; but as 
for the choice of condition, or of country, chance gives 
them to us. 

It is a pitiable thing to see so many Turks, heretics and 
infidels, follow the way of their fathers for the sole reason 
that each has been imbued with the prejudice that it is the 
best. And that fixes for each man his condition of lock- 
ismith, soldier, &c. 

Hence savages care nothing for Provence. 

99 

There is an universal and essential difference between 
the actions of the will and all other actions. 

1 he will is one of the chief factors in belief, not that it 
creates belief, but because things are true or false according 
to the aspect in which we look at them. The will, which 
prefers one aspect to another, turns away the mind from 
considering the qualities of all that it does not like to see; 
and thus the mind, moving in accord with the will, stops to 
consider the aspect which it likes, and so judges by what it 
sees. 

100 

Self-love, — ^The nature of self-love and of this human 
Ego is to love self only and consider self only. But what 
will man do? He cannot prevent this object that he loves 
from being full of faults and wants. He wants to be great, 
and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he 
sees himself miserable. He wants to be perfect, and he sees 
himself full of imperfections. He wants to be the object 
of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults 
merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment 
in which he finds himself produces in him the most un- 
righteous and criminal passion that can be imagined ; for he 
conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 49 

him, and which convinces him of his faults. He would an- 
nihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys 
it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of 
others ; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding 
his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot 
endure either that others should point them out to him, or 
that they should see them. 

Truly it is an evil to be full of faults; but it is a still 
greater evil to be full of them, and to be unwilling to re- 
cognise them, since that is to add the further fault of a 
voluntary illusion. We do not like others to deceive us; 
we do not think it fair that they should be held in higher 
esteem by us than they deserve; it is not then fair that we 
should deceive them, and should wish them to esteem us 
more highly than we deserve. 

Thus, when they discover only the imperfections and 
vices which we really have, it is plain they do us no wrong, 
since it is not they who cause them ; they rather do us good, 
since they help us to free ourselves from an evil, namely, 
the ignorance of these imperfections. We ought not to 
be angry at their knowing our faults and despising us; it 
is but right that they should know us for what we are, and 
should despise us, if we are contemptible. 

Such are the feelings that would arise in a heart full of 
equity and justice. What must we say then of our own 
heart, when we see in it a wholly different disposition? 
For is it not true that we hate truth and those who tell it us, 
and that we like them to be deceived in our favour, and 
prefer to be esteemed by them as being other than what we 
are in fact? One proof of this makes me shudder. The 
Catholic religion does not bind us to confess our sins indis- 
criminately to everybody; it allows them to remain hidden 
from all other men save one, to whom she bids us reveal 
the innermost recesses of our heart, and show ourselves as 
we are. There is only this one man in the world whom she 
orders us to undeceive, and she binds him to an inviolable 
secrecy, which makes this knowledge to him as if it were 
not. Can we imagine anything more charitable and pleasant? 
And yet the corruption of man is such that he finds even 
this law harsh; and it is one of the main reasons which 



44 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

have caused a great part of Europe to rebel against the 
Church. 

How unjust and unreasonable is the heart of man, which 
feels it disagreeable to be obliged to do in regard to one 
man what in some measure it were right to do to all men ! 
For is it right that we should deceive men? 

There are different degrees in this aversion to truth; but 
all may perhaps be said to have it in some degree, because 
it is inseparable from self-love. It is this false delicacy 
which makes those who are under the necessity of reproving 
others choose so many windings and middle courses to avoid 
offence. They must lessen our faults, appear to excuse them, 
intersperse praises and evidence of love and esteem. De- 
spite all this, the medicine does not cease to be bitter to 
self-love. It takes as little as it can, always with disgust, 
and often with a secret spite against those who administer it. 

Hence it happens that if any have some interest in being 
loved by us, they are averse to render us a service which 
they know to be disagreeable. They treat us as we wish to 
be treated. We hate the truth, and they hide it from us. 
We desire flattery, and they flatter us. We like to be de- 
ceived, and they deceive us. 

So each degree of good fortune which raises us in the 
world removes us further from truth, because we are most 
afraid of wounding those whose affection is most useiul 
and whose dislike is most dangerous. A prince may be the 
byword of all Europe, and he alone will know nothing of it. 
I am not astonished; to tell the truth is useful to whom it 
is spoken, but disadvantageous to those who tell it, because 
it makes them disliked. Now those who live with princes 
love their own interests more than that of the prince whom 
they serve; and so they take care not to confer on him a 
benefit so as to injure themselves. 

This evil is no doubt greater and more common among 
the higher classes; but the lower are not exempt from it, 
since there is always some advantage in making men love 
us. Human life is thus only a perpetual illusion; men de- 
ceive and flatter each other. No one speaks of us in our 
presence as he does of us in our absence. Human society 
is founded on mutual deceit; few friendships would endure 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 45 

if each knew what his friend said of him in his absence, 
although he then spoke in sincerity and without passion. 

Man is then only disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both 
in himself and in regard to others. He does not wish any 
one to tell him the truth; he avoids telling it to others, and 
all these dispositions, so removed from justice and reason, 
have a natural root in his heart. 



lOI 

I set it down as a fact that if all men knew what each 
said of the other, there would not be four friends in the 
world. This is apparent from the quarrels which arise from 
the indiscreet tales told from time to time. I say, further, 
all men would be . . . 

102 

Some vices only lay hold of us by means of others, and 
these, like branches, fall on removal of the trunk. 



103 

The example of Alexander's chastity has not made so 
many continent as that of his drunkenness has made in- 
temperate. It is not shameful not to be as virtuous as he, 
and it seems excusable to be no more vicious. We do not 
believe ourselves to be exactly sharing in the vices of the 
vulgar, when we see that we are sharing in those of great 
men; and yet we do not observe that in these matters they 
are ordinary men. We hold on to them by the same end 
by which they hold on to the rabble; for, however exalted 
they are, they are still united at some point to the lowest 
of men. They are not suspended in the air, quite removed 
from our society. No, no; if they are greater than we, it 
is because their heads are higher; but their feet are as low 
as ours. They are all on the same level, and rest on the 
same earth ; and by that extremity they are as low as we are, 
as the meanest folk, as infants, and as the beasts. 



46 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

104 

When our passion leads us to do something, we forget 
our duty ; for example, we like a book and read it, when we 
ought to be doing something else. Now, to remind ourselves 
of our duty, we must set ourselve^s a task we dislike; we 
then plead that we have something else to do, and by this 
means remember our duty. 

How difficult it is to submit anything to the judgment of 
another, without prejudicing his judgment by the manner 
in which we submit it ! If we say, " I think it beautiful," 
"I think it obscure," or the like, we either entice the 
imagination into that view, or irritate it to the contrary. 
It is better to say nothing; and then the other judges ac- 
cording to what really is, that is to say, according as it 
then is, and according as the other circumstances, not of 
our making, have placed it. But we at least shall have ad- 
ded nothing, unless it be that silence also produces an effect, 
according to the turn and the interpretation which the other 
will be disposed to give it, or as he will guess it from 
gestures or countenance, or from the tone of the voice, if 
he is a physiognomist. So difficult is it not to upset a judg- 
ment from its natural place, or rather so rarely is it firm 
and stable! 

106 

By knowing each man's ruling passion, we are .>ure of 
pleasing him ; and yet each has his fancies, opposed to his 
true good, in the very ide^ which he has of the good. It is 
a singularly puzzling fact. 

107 

Lustravit lampade terras^— -Tht weather and my mood 
have little connection. I have my foggy and my fine days 
within me ; my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with 
the matter. I sometimes struggle against luck, the glory 
of mastering it makes me master it gaily; whereas I am 
sometimes surfeited in the midst of good fortune. 
« " H^ has illumined the earth with a lamp.** 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 47 

I08 

Although people may have no interest in what they are 
saying, we must not absolutely conclude from this that they 
are not lying; for there are some people who lie for the 
mere sake of lying. 

109 

When we are well we wonder what we would do if we 
were ill, but when we are ill we take medicine cheerfully; 
the illness persuades us to do so. We have no longer the 
passions and desires for amusements and promenades which 
health gave to us, but which are incompatible with the 
necessities of illness. Nature gives us, then, passions and 
desires suitable to our present state. We are only troubled 
by the fears which we, and not nature, give ourselves, for 
they add to the state in which we are the passions of the 
state in which we are not. 

As nature makes us always unhappy in every state, our 
desires picture to us a happy state; because they add to the 
state in which we are the pleasures of the state in which 
we are not. And if we attained to these pleasures, we should 
not be happy after all ; because we should have other desires 
natural to this new state. 

We must particularise this general proposition. . . . 



no 

The consciousness of the falsity of present pleasures, and 
e ignorance of the vanity of absent pleasures, cause in- 



the ignorance o 
constancy 



III 



Inconstancy. — We think we are playing on ordinary organs 
when playing upon man. Men are organs, it is true, but, 
odd, changeable, variable [with pipes not arranged in proper 
order]. Those who only know how to play on ordinary 
organs will not produce harmonies on these. We must 
know where [the keys] are. 



48 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

112 

Inconstancy. — Things have different qualities, and the 
soul different inclinations; for nothing is simple which is 
presented to the soul, and the soul never presents itself 
simply to any object. Hence it comes that v^^e weep and 
laugh at the same thing. 

Inconstancy and oddity. — To live only by work, and to 
rule over the most powerful State in the world, are very 
opposite things. They are united in the person of the great 
Sultan of the Turks. 

114 

Variety Is as abundant as all tones of the voice, all ways 
of walking, coughing, blowing the nose, sneezing. We 
distinguish vines by their fruit, and call them the Condrien, 
the Desargues, and such and such a stock. Is this all? Has 
a vine ever produced two bunches exactly the same, and 
has a bunch two grapes alike? &c. 

I can never judge of the same thing exactly in the same 
way. I cannot judge of my work, while doing it. I must 
do as the artists, stand at a distance, but not too far. How 
far then ? Guess. 

115 

Variety. — Theology is a science, but at the same time 
how many sciences? A man is a whole; but if we dissect 
him, will he be the head, the heart, the stomach, the veins, 
each vein, each portion of a vein, the blood, each humour 
in the blood? 

A town, a country-place, is from afar a town and a 
country-place. But, as we draw near, there r,re houses, trees, 
tiles, leaves, grass, ants, limbs of ants, in infinity. All this 
is contained under the name of country-place. 

ii6 

Thoughts. — All is one, all is different. How many natures 
exist in man ? How many vocations ? And by what chance 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 49 

does each man ordinarily choose what he has heard praised ? 
A well-turned heel. 

117 

The heel of a slipper. — " Ah ! How well this is turned ! 
Here is a clever workman ! How brave is this soldier ! " 
This is the source of our inclinations, and of the choice of 
conditions. " How much this man drinks ! How little that 
one ! " This makes people sober or drunk, soldiers, cowards, 
&c. 

118 

Chief talent, that which rules the rest. 



119 

Nature imitates herself. A seed sown in good ground 
brings forth fruit. A principle, instilled into a good mind, 
brings forth fruit. Numbers imitate space, which is of a 
different nature. 

All is made and led by the same master, root, branches, 
and fruits; principles and consequences. 

120 

[Nature diversifies and .imitates ; art imitates and diversi- 
fies.] 

121 

Nature always begins the same things again, the years, 
the days, the hours; in like manner spaces and numbers 
follow each other from beginning to end. Thus is made a 
kind of infinity and eternity. Not that anything in all this 
is infinite and eternal, but these finite realities are infinitely 
multiplied. Thus it seems to me to be only the number 
which multiplies them that is infinite. 

122 

Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are 
no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the 
offended are any more themselves. It is like a nation which 



50 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

we have provoked, but meet again after two generations. 
They are still Frenchmen, but not the same. 



123 

He no longer loves the person whom he loved ten years 
ago. I quite believe it. She is no longer the same, nor is 
he. He was young, and she also; she is quite different. He 
would perhaps love her yet, if she were what she was 
then, 

124 

We view things not only from different sides, but with 
different eyes; we have no wish to find them alike. 

125 
Contraries. — Man is naturally credulous and incredulous, 
timid and rash. 

126 

Description of man: dependency, desire of independence, 
need. 

127 
Condition of man: inconstancy, weariness, unrest. 

128 

The weariness which is felt by us in leaving pursuits to 
which we are attached. A man dwells at home with pleasure ; 
but if he sees a woman who charms him, or if he enjoys 
himself in play for five or six days, he is miserable if he 
return to his former way of living. Nothing is more com- 
mon than that. 

129 

Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death. 

130 

Restlessness. — If a soldier, or labourer, complain of the 
hardship of his lot, set him to do nothing. 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD SI 

131 

Weariness, — Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be 
•completely at rest, without passions, without business, with- 
out diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, 
his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weak- 
ness, his emptiness. There will immediately arise from the 
depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, 
vexation, despair. 

132 

Methinks Cassar was too old to set about amusing himself 
with conquering the world. Such sport was good for 
Augustus or Alexander. They were still young men, and 
thus difficult to restrain. But Caesar should have been more 
mature. 

133 

Two faces which resemble each other, make us laugh, 
when together, by their resemblance, though neither 0/ 
them by itself makes us laugh. 

134 

How useless is painting, which attracts admiration by th^ 
resemblance of things, the originals of which we do not 
admire I 

135 

The struggle alone pleases us, not the victory. We love 
to see animals fighting, not the victor infuriated over the 
vanquished. We would only see the victorious end; and, as 
soon as it comes, we are satiated. It is the same in play 
and the same in the search for truth. In disputes we like 
to see the clash of opinions, but not at all to contemplate 
truth when found. To observe it with pleasure, we have to 
see it emerge out of strife. So in the passions, there is 
pleasure in seeing the collision of two cniatraries; but when 
one acquires the mastery, it becomes only brutality. We 
never seek things for themselves, but for the search. Like- 
wise in plays, scenes which do not rouse the emotion of 



52 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

fear are worthless, so are extreme and hopeless misery, 
brutal lust, and extreme cruelty. 

136 

A mere trifle consoles us, for a mere trifle distresses us, 

137 

Without examining every particular pursuit, it is enough 
to comprehend them under diversion. 

138 

Men naturally slaters and of all callings, save in their 
own rooms. 

139 

Diversion. — When I have occasionally set myself to con- 
sider the different distractions of men, the pains and perils 
to which they expose themselves at court or in war, whence 
arise so many quarrels, passions, bold and often bad ven- 
tures, &c., I have discovered that all the unhappiness of 
men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay 
quietly in their own chamber. A man who has enough to 
live on, if he knew how to stay with pleasure at home, 
would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town. A 
commission in the army would not be bought so dearly, but 
that it is found insufferable not to budge from the town ; and 
men only seek conversation and entertaining games, because 
they cannot remain with pleasure at home. 

But on further consideration, when, after finding the 
cause of all our ills, I have sought to discover the reason 
of it, I have found that there is one very real reason, namely, 
the natural poverty of our feeble and mortal condition, so 
miserable that nothing can comfort us when we think of it 
closely. 

Whatever condition we picture to ourselves, if we muster 
all the good things which it is possible to possess, royalty 
is the finest position in the world. Yet, when we imagine a 
king attended with every pleasure he can feel, if he be 
without diversion, and be left to consider and reflect on 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD S3 

what he is, this feeble happiness will not sustain him ; he will 
necessarily fall into forebodings of dangers, of revolutions 
which may happen, and, finally, of death and inevitable 
disease; so that if he be without what is called diversion, he 
is unhappy, and more unhappy than the least of his subjects 
who plays and diverts himself. 

Hence it comes that play and the society of women, war, 
and high posts, are so sought after. Not that there is in 
fact any happiness in them, or that men imagine true bliss 
to consist in money won at play, or in the hare which they 
hunt; we would not take these as a gift. We do not seek 
that easy and peaceful lot which permits us to think of our 
unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the labour 
of office, but the bustle which averts these thoughts of ours, 
and amuses us. 

Reasons why we like the chase better than the quarry. 

Hence it comes that men so much love noise and stir; 
hence it comes that the prison is so horrible a punishment; 
hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing in- 
comprehensible. And it is in fact the greatest source of 
happiness in the condition of kings, that men try incessantly 
to divert them, and to procure for them all kinds of 
pleasures. 

The king is surrounded by persons whose only thought 
is to divert the king, and to prevent his thinking of self. 
For he is unhappy, king though he be, if he think of him- 
self. 

This is all that men have been able to discover to make 
themselves happy. And those who philosophise on the mat- 
ter, and who think men unreasonable for spending a whole 
day in chasing a hare which they would not have bought, 
scarce know our nature. The hare in itself would not 
screen us from the sight of death and calamities; but the 
chase which turns away our attention from these, does 
screen us. 

The advice given to Pyrrhus to take the rest which he 
was about to seek with so much labour, was full of difficul- 
ties. 

[To bid a man live quietly is to bid him live happily. It 
is to advise him to be in a state perfectly happy, in which he 



SI PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

can think at leisure without finding therein a cause o£ dis- 
tress. This is to misunderstand nature. 

As men who naturally understand their own condition 
avoid nothing so much as rest, so there is nothing they leave 
undone in seeking turmoil. Not that they have an instinc- 
tive knowledge of true happiness. . . . 

So we are wrong in blaming them. Their error does not 
lie in seeking excitement, if they seek it only as a diversion; 
the evil is that they seek it as if the possession of the objects 
of their quest would make them really happy. In this 
respect it is right to call their quest a vain one. Hence in 
all this both the censurers and the censured do not under- 
stand man's true nature.] 

And thus, when we take the exception against them, that 
tvhat they seek with such fervour cannot satisfy them, if 
they replied — as they should do if they considered the matter 
thoroughly — that they sought in it only a violent and im- 
petuous occupation which turned their thoughts from self, 
and that they therefore chose an attractive object to charm 
and ardently attract them, they would leave their opponents 
without a reply. But they do not make this reply, because 
they do not know themselves. They do not know that it 
is the chase, and not the quarry, which they seek. 

[Dancing: we must consider rightly where to place our 
feet. 

— A gentleman sincerely believes that hunting is great 
and royal sport ; but a beater is not of this opinion.] 

They imagine that if they obtained such a post, they 
would then rest with pleasure, and are insensible of the 
insatiable nature of their desire. They think they are truly 
seeking quiet, and they are only seeking excitement. 

They have a secret instinct which impels them to seek 
amusement and occupation abroad, and which arises from 
the sense of their constant unhappiness. They have another 
secret instinct, a remnant of the greatness of our original 
nature, which teaches them that happiness in reality consists 
only in rest, and not in stir. And of these two contrary 
instincts they form within themselves a confused idea, which 
hides itself from their view in the depths of their soul, in- 
citing them to aim at rest through excitement, and always 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD ^ 

to fancy that the satisfaction which they have not will come 
to them, if, by surmounting whatever diflScuhies confront 
them, they can thereby open the door to rest. 

Thus passes away all man's life. Men seek rest in a 
struggle against difficulties; and when they have conquered 
these, rest becomes insufferable. For we think either of the 
misfortimes we have or of those which threaten us. And 
even if we should see ourselves sufficiently sheltered on all 
sides, weariness of its own accord would not fail to arise 
from the depths of the heart wherein it has its natural 
roots, and to fill the mind with its poison. 

Thus so wretched is man that he would weary even with- 
out any cause for weariness from the peculiar state of his 
disposition; and so frivolous is he, that, though full of a 
thousand reasons for weariness, the least thing, such as 
playing billiards or hitting a ball, is sufficient to amuse him. 

But will you say what object has he in all this? The 
pleasure of bragging to-morrow among his friends that he 
has played better than another. So others sweat in their own 
rooms to show to the learned that they have solved a prob- 
lem in -Algebra, which no one had hitherto been able to 
solve. Many more expose themselves to extreme perils, in 
my opinion as foolishly, in order to boast afterwards that 
they have captured a town. Lastly, others wear themselves 
out in studying all these things, not in order to become 
wiser, but only in order to prove that they know them ; and 
these are the most senseless of the band, since they are so 
knowingly, whereas one may suppose of the others, that if 
they knew it, they would no longer be foolish. 

This man spends his life without weariness in playing 
every day for a small stake. Give him each morning the 
money he can win each day, on condition he does not play; 
you make him miserable. It will perhaps be said that he 
seeks the amusement of play and not the winnings. Make 
him then play for nothing; he will not become excited over 
it, and will feel bored. It is then not the amusement alone 
that he seeks; a languid and passionless amusement will 
weary him. He must get excited over it, and deceive him- 
self by the fancy that he will be happy to win what he would 
not have as a gift on condition of not playing; and he must 



56 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

make for himself an object of passion, and excite over it 
his desire, his anger, his fear, to obtain his imagined end, 
as children are frightened at the face they have blackened. 

Whence comes it that this man, who lost his only son a 
few months ago, or who this morning was in such trouble 
through being distressed by lawsuits and quarrels, now no 
longer thinks of them? Do not wonder; he is quite taken 
up in looking out for the boar which his dogs have been 
hunting so hotly for the last six hours. He requires nothing 
more. However full of sadness a man may be, he is happy 
for the time, if you can prevail upon him to enter into some 
amusement ; and however happy a man may be, he will soon 
be discontented and wretched, if he be not diverted and 
occupied by some passion or pursuit which prevents weari- 
ness from overcoming him. Without amusement there is 
no joy; with amusement there is no sadness. And this also 
constitutes the happiness of persons in high position, that 
they have a number of people to amuse them, and have the 
power to keep themselves in this state. 

Consider this. What is it to be superintendent, chancellor, 
first president, but to be in a condition wherein from early 
morning a large number of people come from all quarters 
to see them, so as not to leave them an hour in the day in 
which they can think of themselves? And when they are 
in disgrace and sent back to their country houses, where 
they lack neither wealth nor servants to help them on occa- 
sion, they do not fail to be wretched and desolate, because 
no one prevents them from thinking of themselves. 



140 

[How does it happen that this man, so distressed at the 
death of his wife and his only son, or who has some great 
lawsuit which annoys him, is not at this moment sad, and 
that he seems so free from all painful and disquieting 
thoughts ? We need not wonder ; for a ball has been served 
him, and he must return it to his companion. He is occupied 
in catching it in its fall from the roof, to win a game. How 
can he think of his own affairs, pray, when he has this other 
matter in hand? Here is a care worthy of occupying this 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 57 

great soul, and taking away from him every other thought 
of the mind. This man, born to know the universe, to judge 
all causes, to govern a whole state, is altogether occupied and 
taken up with the business of catching a hare. And if he 
does not lower himself to this, and wants always to be on 
the strain, he will be more foolish still, because he would 
raise himself above humanity; and after all he is only a 
man, that is to say capable of little and of much, of all and 
of nothing; he is neither angel nor brute, but man.] 



141 

Men spend their time in following a ball or a hare; it is 
the pleasure even of kings. 

142 

Diversion. — Is not the royal dignity sufficiently great in 
itself to make its possessor happy by the mere contemplation 
of what he is? Must he be diverted from this thought like 
ordinary folk? I see well that a man is made happy by 
diverting him from the view of his domestic sorrows so as 
to occupy all his thoughts with the care of dancing well. 
But will it be the same with a king, and will he be happier 
in the pursuit of these idle amusements than in the con- 
templation of his greatness? And what more satisfactory 
object could be presented to his mind? Would it not be a 
deprivation of his delight for him to occupy his soul with 
the thought of how to adjust his steps to the cadence of an 
air, or of how to throw a [ball] skilfully, instead of leaving 
it to enjoy quietly the contemplation of the majestic glory 
which encompasses him ? Let us make the trial ; let us leave 
a king all alone to reflect on himself quite at leisure, with- 
out any gratification of the senses, without any care in his 
mind, without society; and we will see that a king without 
diversion is a man full of wretchedness. So this is carefully 
avoided, and near the persons of kings there never fail to 
be a great number of people who see to it that amusement 
follows business, and who watch all the time of their leisure 
to supply them with delights and games, so that there is no 
blank in it. In fact kings are surrounded with persons who 



§B PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

are wonderfully attentive in taking care that the king be not 
alone and in a state to think of himself, knowing well that he 
will be miserable, king though he be, if he meditate on self. 
In all this I am not talking of Christian kings as Chris- 
tians, but only as kings. 

143 

Diversion, — ^Men are intrusted trom infancy with the 
care of their honour, their property, their friends, and even 
with the property and the honour of their friends. They are 
o^rwhelmed with business, with the study of languages, and 
with physical exercise; and they are made to understand 
that they cannot be happy unless their health, their honour, 
their fortune and that of their friends be in good condition, 
and that a single thing wanting will make them unhappy. 
Thus they are given cares and business which make them 
bustle about from break of day. — It is, you will exclaim, a 
strange way to make them happy! What more could be 
done to make them miserable? — Indeed! what could be 
done? We should only have to relieve them from all these 
cares; for then they would see themselves: they would re- 
flect on what they are, whence they came, whither they go, 
and thus we cannot employ and divert them too much. And 
this is why, after having given them so much business, we 
advise them, if they have some time for relaxation, to em- 
ploy it in amusement, in play, and to be always fully occu- 
pied. 

How hollow and full of ribaldry is the heart of man ! 

144 

I spent a long time in the study of the abstract sciences, 
and was disheartened by the small number of fellow-students 
in them. When I commenced the study of man, I saw that 
these abstract sciences are not suited to man, and that I was 
wandering further from my own state in examining them, 
than others in not knowing them. I pardoned their little 
knowledge ; but I thought at least to find many companions 
in the study of man, and that it was the true study which 
is suited to him. I have been deceived; still fewer study it 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 59 

than geometry. It is only from want of knowing how to 
study this that we seek the other studies. But is it not that 
even here is not the knowledge which man should have, and 
that for the purposes of happiness it is better for him not to 
know himself? 

145 

[One thought alone occupies us; we cannot think of two 
things at the same time. This is lucky for us according to 
the world, not according to God.] 

146 

Man is obviously made to think. It is his whole dignity 
and his whole merit; and his whole duty is to think as he 
ought. Now, the order of thought is to begin with self, and 
with its Author and its end. 

Now, of what does the world think? Never of this, but 
of dancing, playing the lute, singing, making verses, running 
at the ring, &c., fighting, making oneself king, without think- 
ing what it is to be a king and what to be a man. 



147 

We do not content ourselves with the life we have in 
ourselves and in our own being; we desire to live an imagi- 
nary life in the mind of others, and for this purpose we 
endeavour to shine. We labour unceasingly to adorn and 
preserve this imaginary existence, and neglect the real. And 
if we possess calmness, or generosity, or truthfulness, we 
are eager to make it known, so as to attach these virtues to 
that imaginary existence. We would rather separate them 
from ourselves to join them to it; and we would willingly 
be cowards in order to acquire the reputation of being brave. 
A great proof of the nothingness of our being, not to be 
satisfied with the one without the other, and to renounce 
the one for the other ! For he would be infamous who 
would not die to preserve his honour. 



60 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

148 

We are so presumptuous that we would wish to be known 
by all the world, even by people who shall come after, when 
we shall be no more; and we are so vain that the esteem 
of five or six neighbours delights and contents us. 

149 

We do not trouble ourselves about being esteemed in the 
towns through which we pass. But if we are to remain a 
little while there, we are so concerned. How long is neces- 
sary? A time commensurate with our vain and paltry 
life. 

ISO 

Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that a soldier, 
a soldier's servant, a cook, a porter brags, and wishes to 
have his admirers. Even philosophers wish for them. Those 
who write against it want to have the glory of having writ- 
ten well; and those who read it desire the glory of having 
read it. I who write this have perhaps this desire, and per- 
haps those who will read it ... . 

151 

Glory. — Admiration spoils all from infancy. Ah! How 
well said ! Ah ! How well done ! How well-behaved he 
is ! &c. 

The children of Port-Royal, who do not receive this 
stimulus of envy and glory, fall into carelessness. 

152 

Pride. — Curiosity is only vanity. Most frequently we wish 
to know but to talk. Otherwise we would not take a sea 
voyage in order never to talk of it, and for the sole pleasure 
of seeing without hope of ever communicating it. 

153 
Of the desire of being esteemed by those with whom we 
are. — Pride takes such natural possession of us in the midst 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 61 

of our woes, errors, &c. We even lose our life with joy, 
provided people talk of it. 

Vanity: play, hunting, visiting, false shams, a lasting 
name. 

154 

[I have no friends] to your advantage], 

155 

A true friend is so great an advantage, even for the great- 
est lords, in order that he may speak well of them, and 
back them in their absence, that they should do all to have 
one. But they should choose well; for, if they spend all 
their efforts in the interests of fools, it will be of no use, 
however well these may speak of them; and these will not 
even speak well of them if they find themselves on the 
weakest side, for they have no influence; and thus they will 
speak ill of them in company. 

156 

Ferox gens, nullam esse vitam sine armis rafi.^^ — They 
prefer death to peace ; others prefer death to war. 

Every opinion may be held preferable to life, the love of 
which is so strong and so natural. 

157 
Contradiction: contempt for our existence, to die for 
nothing, hatred of our existence. 

158 

Pursuits. — The charm of fame is so great, that we like 
every object to which it is attached, even death. 

159 

Noble deeds are most estimable when hidden. When 
I see some of these in history (as p. 184), they please me 
greatly. But after all they have not been quite hidden, since 

!• " A fierce people, who thought life was nothing without arms." — Livy,. 



Q PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

they have Ijeen known; and though people have done what 
they could to hide them, the little publication of them spoils 
all, for what was best in them was the wish to hide them. 



160 

Sneezing absorbs all the functions of the soul, as well as 
work does; but we do not draw therefrom the same con- 
clusions against the greatness of man, because it is against 
his will. And although we bring it on ourselves, it is never- 
theless against our will that we sneeze. It is not in view 
of the act itself ; it is for another end. And thus it is not a 
proof of the weakness of man, and of his slavery under that 
action. 

It is not disgraceful for man to yield to pain, and it is 
disgraceful to yield to pleasure. This is not because pain 
comes to us from without, and we ourselves seek pleasure; 
for it is possible to seek pain, and yield to it purposely, 
without this kind of baseness. Whence comes it, then, that 
reason thinks it honourable to succumb under stress of pain, 
and disgraceful to yield to the attack of pleasure? It is 
because pain does not tempt and attract us. It is we our- 
selves who choose it voluntarily, and will it to prevail over 
us. So that we are masters of the situation; and in this 
man yields to himself. But in pleasure it is man who 
yields to pleasure. Now only mastery and sovereignty 
bring glory, and only slavery brings shame. 



161 

Vanity. — How wonderful it is that a thing so evident 
as the vanity of the world is so little known, that it is a 
strange and surprising thing to say that it is foolish to 
seek greatness! 

162 

He who will know fully the vanity of man has only to 
consider the causes and effects of love. The cause is / know 
not what (Corneille), and the effects are dreadful. This 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 63 

I know not what, so small an object that we cannot recog- 
nise it, agitates a whole country, princes, armies, the entire 
world. 

Cleopatra's nose: had it been shorter, the whole aspect 
of the world would have been altered. 

163 
Vanity, — ^The cause and the effects of love : Cleopatra. 

164 

He who does not see the vanity of the world is himself 
very vain. Indeed who do not see it but youths who are 
absorbed in fame, diversion, and the thought of the future? 
But take away their diversion, and you will see them 
dried up with weariness. They feel then their nothingness 
without knowing it; for it is indeed to be unhappy to be in 
insufferable sadness as soon as we are reduced to thinking of 
self, and have no diversion. 

Thoughts. — In omnibus requiem qucesivi.^'' If our condi- 
tion were truly happy, we would not need diversion from 
thinking of it in order to make ourselves happy. 

166 

Diversion. — Death is easier to bear without thinking of it, 
than is the thought of death without peril. 

167 

The miseries of human life have established all this; as 
men have seen this, they have taken up diversion. 

168 

Diversion. — As men are not able to fight against death, 
misery, ignorance, they have taken it into their heads, ip 
order to be happy, not to think of them at all. 
>' ** In all things I have sought rest** 



64 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

169 

Despite these miseries, man wishes to be happy, and only 
wishes to be happy, and cannot wish not to be so. But 
how will he set about it? To be happy he would have to 
make himself immortal; but, not being able to do so, it has 
occurred to him to prevent himself from thinking of death. 

170 

Diversion. — If man were happy, he would be the more so, 
the less he was diverted, like the Saints and God. — ^Yes; 
but is it not to be happy to have a faculty of being amused 
by diversion? — No; for that comes from elsewhere and from 
without, and thus is dependent, and therefore subject to be 
disturbed by a thousand accidents, which bring inevitable 
griefs. 

171 

Misery. — The only thing which consoles us for our mis- 
>eries is diversion, and yet this is the greatest of our miseries. 
For it is this which principally hinders us from reflecting 
upon ourselves, and which makes us insensibly ruin our- 
selves. Without this we should be in a state of weariness, 
and this weariness would spur us to seek a more solid means 
of escaping from it. But diversion amuses us, and leads 
us unconsciously to death. 

172 

We do not rest satisfied with the present. We anticipate 
the future as too slow in coming, as if in order to hasten 
its course; or we recall the past, to stop its too rapid flight. 
So imprudent are we that we wander in the times which 
are not ours, and do not think of the only one which belongs 
to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times 
which are no more, and thoughtlessly overlook that which 
alone exists. For the present is generally painful to us. We 
conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us; and if it 
be delightful to us, we regret to see it pass away. We try 
to sustain it by the future, and think of arranging matters 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 6S 

which are not in our power, for a time which we have 
no certainty of reaching. 

Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them 
all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely 
ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only 
to take light from it to arrange the future. The present 
is never our end. The past and the present are our means; 
the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we 
hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to "be happy, 
it is inevitable we should never be so. 

173 
They say that eclipses foretoken misfortune, because mis- 
fortunes are common, so that, as evil happens so often, they 
often foretell it; whereas if they said that they predict 
good fortune, they would often be wrong. They attribute 
good fortune only to rare conjunctions of the heavens; so 
they seldom fail in prediction. 

174 
Misery. — Solomon and Job have best known and best 
spoken of the misery of man; the former, the most for- 
tunate, and the latter the most unfortunate of men; the form- 
er knowing the vanity of pleasures from experience, the 
latter the reality of evils. 

175 
We know ourselves so little, that many think they are 
about to die when they are well, and many think they are 
well when they are near death, unconscious of approaching 
fever, or of the abscess ready to form itself. 

176 

Cromwell was about to ravage all Christendom; the royal 

family was undone, and his own for ever established, save 

for a little grain of sand which formed in his ureter. Rome 

herself was trembling under him; but this small piece of 

gravel having formed there, he is dead, his family cast down, 

all is peaceful, and the king is restored. 

HC XL VIII (c) 



66 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



177 

[Three hosts.] Would he who had possessed the friendship 
of the King of England, the King of Poland, and the Queen 
of Sweden, have believed he would lack a refuge and shelter 
in the world? 

178 

Macrobius : on the innocents slain by Herod. 

179 

When Augustus learnt that Herod*s own son was amongst 
the infants under two years of age, whom he had caused to 
be slain, he said that it was better to be Herod's pig than his 
son. — Macrobius, Sat., book ii. chap. 4. 



180 

The great and the humble have the same misfortunes, 
the same griefs, the same passions; but the one is at the 
top of the wheel, and the other near the centre, and so less 
disturbed by the same revolutions. 



181 

We are so unfortunate that we can only take pleasure 
in a thing on condition of being annoyed if it turn out ill, 
as a thousand things can do, and do every hour. He who 
should find the secret of rejoicing in the good, without 
troubling himself with its contrary evil, would have hit the 
mark. It is perpetual motion. 



182 

Those who have always good hope in the midst of misfor- 
tunes, and who are delighted with good luck, are suspected 
of being very pleased with the ill success of the affair, if 
they arc not equally distressed by bad luck; and they are 



MISERY OF MAN WITHOUT GOD 67 

overjoyed to find these pretexts of hope, in order to show 
that they are concerned, and to conceal by the joy which 
they feign to feel that which they have at seeing the failure 
of the matter. 

183 

We run carelessly to the precipice, after we have put 
something before us to prevent us seeing it. 



SECTION III 
Of the Necessity of the Wager 

184 

A LETTER to incite to the search after God. 
And then to make people seek Him among the 
philosophers, sceptics, and dogmatists, who disquiet 
him who inquires of them. 

185 

The conduct of God, who disposes all things kindly, is 
to put religion into the mind by reason, and into the heart 
by grace. But to will to put it into the mind and heart by 
force and threats is not to put religion there, but terror, 
terorrem potius quam religionem.^ 



186 

Nisi terrerentur ef non docerentiir, improha quasi domi- 
natio videretiir (Aug. Ep. 48 or 49)." Contra mendacium ad 
Consentium* 

187 

Order. — Men despise religion; they hate it, and fear it is 
true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion 
is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire re- 
spect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good 
men hope it is true ; finally, we must prove it is true. 

Venerable, because it has perfect knowledge of man; lov- 
able, because it promises the true good. 

» " Terror rather than religion.'* 

2 " If they were not terrified and were instructed, it would seem like ar 
unjust tyranny." ^ ., „ 

» " To meet a he, appeal to the Council." 

68 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 69 



i88 

In every dialogue and discourse, we must be able to say 
to those who take offence, "Of what do you complain?" 

189 

To begin by pitying unbelievers ; they are wretched enough 
by their condition. We ought only to revile them where 
it is beneficial; but this does them harm. 

190 

To pity atheists who seek, for are they not unhappy 
enough? To inveigh against those who make a boast of it. 

191 

And will this one scoff at the other? Who ought to scoff? 
And yet, the latter does not scoff at the other, but pities him. 

192 

To reproach Miton with not being troubled, since God will 
reproach him. 

193 

Quid fiet ho7ninibus qui minima contemniint, majora non 
credunt* 

194 

. . . Let them at least learn what is the religion they 
attack, before attacking it. If this religion boasted of having 
a clear view of God, and of possessing it open and unveiled, 
it would be attacking it to say that we see nothing in the 
world which shows it with this clearness. But since, on the 
contrary, it says that men are in darkness and estranged from 
God, that He has hidden Himself from their knowledge, that 
this is in fact the name which He gives Himself in the Scrip- 
tures, Deus absconditusf and finally, if it endeavours equally 

* " What will happen to men who despise the smallest things, and do 
•ot believe the greater." 
•"A hidden God. "r— Isaiah, xlv. 13. 



9D PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

to establish these two things: that God has set up in the 
Church visible signs to make Himself known to those who 
should seek Him sincerely, and that He has nevertheless so 
disguised them that He will only be perceived by those 
who seek Him with all their heart; what advantage can 
they obtain, when, in the negligence with which they make 
profession of being in search of the truth, they cry out that 
nothing reveals it to them ; and since that darkness in which 
they are, and with which they upbraid the Church, establishes 
only one of the things which she affirms, without touching 
the other, and, very far from destroying, proves her doctrine ? 

In order to attack it, they should have protested that they 
had made every effort to seek Him everywhere, and even 
in that which the Church proposes for their instruction, but 
without satisfaction. H they talked in this manner, they 
would in truth be attacking one of her pretensions. But I 
hope here to show that no reasonable person can speak thus, 
and I venture even to say that no one has ever done so. We 
know well enough how those who are of this mind behave. 
They believe they have made great efforts for their in- 
struction, when they have spent a few hours in reading some 
book of Scripture, and have questioned some priest on the 
truths of the faith. After that, they boast of having made 
vain search in books and among men. But, verily, I will tell 
them what I have often said, that this negligence is insuffer- 
able. We are not here concerned with the trifling interest 
of some stranger, that we should treat it in this fashion ; the 
matter concerns ourselves and our all. 

The immortality of the soul is a matter which is of so great 
consequence to us, and which touches us so profoundly, that 
we must have lost all feeling to be indifferent as to knowing 
what it is. All our actions and thoughts must take such 
different courses, according as there are or are not eternal 
joys to hope for, that it is impossible to take one step with 
sense and judgment, unless we regulate our course by our 
view of this point which ought to be our ultimate end. 

Thus our first interest and our first duty is to enlighten 
ourselves on this subject, whereon depends all our conduct. 
Therefore among those who do not believe, I make a vast 
difference between those who strive with all their power to 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 71 

inform themselves, and those who live without troubling 
or thinking about it. 

I can have only compassion for those who sincerely bewail 
their doubt, who regard it as the greatest of misfortunes, 
and who, sparing no effort to escape it, make of this inquiry 
their principal and most serious occupation. 

But as for those who pass their life without thinking of this 
ultimate end of life, and who, for this sole reason that they 
do not find within themselves the lights which convince them 
of it, neglect to seek them elsewhere, and to examine thor- 
oughly whether this opinion is one of those which people re- 
ceive with credulous simplicity, or one of those which, al- 
though obscure in themselves, have nevertheless a solid and 
immovable foundation, I look upon them in a manner quite 
different. 

This carelessness in a matter which concerns themselves, 
their eternity, their all, moves me more to anger than pity; 
it astonishes and shocks me ; it is to me monstrous. I do not 
say this out of the pious zeal of a spiritual devotion. I ex- 
pect, on the contrary, that we ought to have this feeling from 
principles of human interest and self-love; for this we need 
only see what the least enlightened persons see. 

We do not require great education of the mind to under- 
stand that here is no real and lasting satisfaction; that our 
pleasures are only vanity; that our evils are infinite; and, 
lastly, that death, which threatens us every moment, must 
infallibly place us within a few years under the dreadful 
necessity of being for ever either annihilated or unhappy. 

There is nothing more real than this, nothing more terrible. 
Be as heroic as we like, that is the end which awaits the 
noblest life in the v/orld. Let us reflect on this, and then 
say whether it is not beyond doubt that there is no good in 
this life but in the hope of another; that we are happy only 
in proportion as we draw near it ; and that, as there are no 
more woes for those who have complete assurance of eter- 
nity, so there is no more happiness for those who have no 
insight into it. 

Surely then it is a great evil thus to be in doubt, but it is 
at least an indispensable duty to seek when we are in such 
doubt; and thus the doubter who does not seek is altogether 



72 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

completely unhappy and completely wrong. And if besides 
this he is easy and content, profess to be so, and indeed boasts 
of it; if it is this state itself which is the subject of his joy 
and vanity, I have no words to describe so silly a creature. 

How can people hold these opinions? What joy can we 
find in the expectation of nothing but hopeless misery ? What 
reason for boasting that we are in impenetrable darkness? 
And how can it happen that the following argument occurs 
to a reasonable man? 

" I know not who put me into the world, nor what the 
world is, not what I myself am. I am in terrible ignorance 
of everything. I know not what my body is, nor my senses, 
nor my soul, nor even that part of me which thinks what I 
say, which reflects on all and on itself, and knows itself no 
more than the rest. I see those frightful spaces of the 
universe which surround me, and I find myself tied to one 
corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am put 
in this place rather than in another, nor why the short time 
which is given me to live is assigned to me at this point 
rather than at another of the whole eternity which was be- 
fore me or which shall come after me. I see nothing but 
infinites on all sides, which surround me as an atom, and 
as a shadow which endures only for an instant and returns 
no more. All I know is that I must soon die, but what I 
know least is this very death which I cannot escape. 

^As I know not whence I come, so I know not whither 
I go. I know only that, in leaving this world, I fall for 
ever either into annihilation or into the hands of an angry 
God, without knowing to which of these two states I shall 
be for ever assigned. Such is my state, full of weakness 
and uncertainty. And from all this I conclude that I ought 
to spend all the days of my life without caring to inquire 
into what must happen to me. Perhaps I might find some 
solution to my doubts, but I will not take the trouble, nor 
take a step to seek it; and after treating with scorn those 
who are concerned with this care, I will go without fore- 
sight and without fear to try the great event, and let my- 
self be led carelessly to death, uncertain of the eternity of 
my future state." 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 73 

Who would desire to have for a friend a man who talks 
in this fashion? Who would choose him out from others to 
tell him of his affairs? Who would have recourse to him in 
affliction? And indeed to what use in life could one put 
him? 

In truth, it is the glory of religion to have for enemies 
men so unreasonable: and their opposition to it is so little 
dangerous that it serves on the contrary to establish its 
truths. For the Christion faith goes mainly to establish 
these two facts, the corruption of nature, and redemption by 
Jesus Christ. Now I contend that if these men do not serve 
to prove the truth of the redemption by the holiness of 
their behaviour, they at least serve admirably to show the 
corruption of nature by sentiments so unnatural. 

Nothing is so important to man as his own state, nothing is 
so formidable to him as eternity; and thus it is not natural 
that there should be men indifferent to the loss of their 
existence, and to the perils of everlasting suffering. They 
are quite different with regard to all other things. They 
are afraid of mere trifles; they foresee them; they feel 
them. And this same man who spends so many days and 
nights in rage and despair for the loss of office, or for some 
imaginary insult to his honour, is the very one who knows 
without anxiety and without emotion that he will lose all by 
death. It is a monstrous thing to see in the same heart and 
at the same time this sensibility to trifles and this strange 
insensibility to the greatest objects. It is an incomprehensible 
enchantment, and a supernatural slumber, which indicates 
as its cause an all-powerful force. 

There must be a strange confusion in the nature of man, 
that he should boast of being in that state in which it seems 
incredible that a single individual should be. However, ex- 
perience has shown me so great a number of such persons 
that the fact would be surprising, if we did not know that the 
greater part of those who trouble themselves about the 
matter are disingenuous, and not in fact what they say. 
They are people who have heard it said that it is the fashion 
to be thus daring. It is what they call shaking off the yoke, 
and they try to imitate this. But it would not be difficult 
to make them understand how greatly they deceive them- 



74 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

selves in thus seeking esteem. This is not the way to gain 
it, even I say among those men of the world who take a 
healthy view of things, and who know that the only way 
to succeed in this life is to make ourselves appear honour- 
able, faithful, judicious, and capable of useful service to a 
friend; because naturally men love only what may be use- 
ful to them. Now, what do we gain by hearing it said of a 
man that he has now thrown off the yoke, that he does not 
believe there is a God who watches our actions, that he 
considers himself the sole master of his conduct, and that 
he thinks he is accountable for it only to himself ? Does he 
think that he has thus brought us to have henceforth com- 
plete confidence in him, and to look to him for consolation, 
advice, and help in every need of life? Do they profess to 
have delighted us by telling us that they hold our soul to be 
only a little wind and smoke, especially by telling us this in a 
haughty and self-satisfied tone of voice? Is this a thing 
to say gaily ? Is it not, on the contrary, a thing to say sadly, 
as the saddest thing in the world? 

If they thought of it seriously, they would see that this 
is so bad a mistake, so contrary to good sense, so opposed to 
decency, and so removed in every respect from that good 
breeding which they seek, that they would be more likely 
to correct than to pervert those who had an inclination to 
follow them. And indeed, make them give an account of 
their opinions, and of the reasons which they have for 
doubting religion, and they will say to you things so feeble 
and so petty, that they will persuade you of the contrary. 
The following is what a person one day said to such an 
one very appositely, " If you continue to talk in this manner, 
you will really make me religious." And he was right, for 
who would not have a horror of holding opinions in which 
he would have such contemptible persons as companions ! 

Thus those who only feign these opinions would be very 
unhappy, if they restrained their natural feelings in order 
to make themselves the most conceited of men. If, at the 
bottom of their heart, they are troubled at not having more 
light, let them not disguise the fact; this avowal will not 
be shameful. The only shame is to have none. Nothing 
reveals more an extreme weakness of mind than not to 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 75 

know the misery of a godless man. Nothing is more in- 
dicative of a bad disposition of heart than not to desire 
the truth of eternal promises. Nothing is more dastardly 
than to act the bravado before God. Let them then leave 
these impieties to those who are sufficiently ill-bred to be 
really capable of them. Let them at least be honest men, 
if they cannot be Christians. Finally, let them recognise 
that there are two kinds of people one can call reasonable; 
those who serve God with all their heart because they 
know Him, and those who seek Him with all their heart 
because they do not know Him. 

But as for those who live without knowing Him and 
without seeking Him, they judge themselves so little worthy 
of their own care, that they are not worthy of the care of 
others; and it needs all the charity of the religion which 
they despise, not to despise them even to the point of leav- 
ing them to their folly. But because this religion obliges us 
always to regard them, so long as they are in this life, as 
capable of the grace which can enlighten them, and to 
believe that they may, in a little time, be more replenished 
with faith than we are, and that, on the other hand, we 
may fall into the blindness wherein they are, we must do 
for them what we would they should do for us if we were 
in their place, and call upon them to have pity upon them- 
selves, and to take at least some steps in the endeavour to 
find light. Let them give to reading this some of the hours 
which they otherwise employ so uselessly; whatever aver- 
sion they may bring to the task, they will perhaps gain some- 
thing, and at least will not lose much. But as for those who 
bring to the task perfect sincerity and a real desire to meet 
with truth, those I hope will be satisfied and convinced of 
the proofs of a religion so divine, which I have here col- 
lected and in which I have followed somewhat after this 
order . . . 

195 

Before entering into the proofs of the Christian religion, I 

find it necessary to point out the sinfulness of those men who 

live in indifference to the search for truth in a matter which 

is so important to them, and which touches them so nearly. 



76 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Of all their errors, this doubtless is the one which most 
convicts them of foolishness and blindness, and in which 
it is easiest to confound them by the first glimmerings of 
common sense, and by natural feelings. 

For it is not to be doubted that the duration of this life 
is but a moment; that the state of death is eternal, whatever 
may be its nature ; and that thus all our actions and thoughts 
must take such different directions according to the state of 
that eternity, that it is impossible to take one step with sense 
and judgment, unless we regulate our course by the truth of 
that point which ought to be our ultimate end. 

There is nothing clearer than this; and thus, according 
to the principles of reason, the conduct of men is wholly 
unreasonable, if they do not take another course. 

On this point therefore we condemn those who lire 
without thought of the ultimate end of life, who let them- 
selves be guided by their own inclinations and their own 
pleasures without reflection and without concern, and, as if 
they could annihilate eternity by turning away their thought 
from it, think only of making themselves happy for the 
moment. 

Yet this eternity exists, and death, which must open 
into it, and threatens them every hour, must in a little 
time infallibly put them under the dreadful necessity 
of being either annihilated or unhappy for ever, without 
knowing which of these eternities is for ever prepared 
for them. 

This is a doubt of terrible consequence. They are in 
peril of eternal woe; and thereupon, as if the matter were 
not worth the trouble, they neglect to inquire whether this 
is one of those opinions which people receive with too cred- 
ulous a facility, or one of those which, obscure in them- 
selves, have a very firm, though hidden, foundation. Thus 
they know not whether there be truth or falsity in the 
matter, nor whether there be strength or weakness in the 
proofs. They have them before their eyes; they refuse to 
look at them; and in that ignorance they choose all that 
is necessary to fall into this misfortune if it exist, to await 
death to make trial of it, yet to be very content in this state, 
to r^ake profession of it and indeed to boast of it. Can we 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 77 

think seriously on the importance of this subject without 
being horrified at conduct so extravagant? 

This resting in ignorance is a monstrous thing, and they 
who pass their life in it must be made to feel its extrava- 
gance and stupidity, by having it shown to them, so that they 
may be confounded by the sight of their folly. For this is 
how men reason, when they choose to live in such ignorance 
of what they are, and without seeking enlightenment. " I 
know not," they say . . . 

196 
Men lack heart; they would not make a friend of it. 



197 

To be insensible to the extent of despising interesting 
things, and to become insensible to the point which interests 
us most. 

198 

The sensibility of man to trifles, and his insensibility to 
great things, indicates a strange inversion. 



199 

Let us imagine a number of men in chains, and all con- 
demned to death, where some are killed each day in the 
sight of the others, and those who remain see their own 
fate in that of their fellows, and wait their turn, looking at 
each other sorrowfully and without hope. It is an image 
of the condition of men. 

200 

A man in a dungeon, ignorant whether his sentence be 
pronounced, and having only one hour to learn it, but this 
hour enough, if he know that it is pronounced, to obtain its 
repeal, would act unnaturally in spending that hour, not in 
ascertaining his sentence, but in playing piquet. So it is 
against nature that man, &c. It is making heavy the hand 
of God. 



7g PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Thus not only the zeal of those who seek Him proves 
God, but also the blindness of those who seek Him not. 



201 

All the objections of this one and that one only go against 
themselves, and not against religion. All that infidels 
say . . . 

202 

[From those who are in despair at being without faith, 
we see that God does not enlighten them ; but as to the rest, 
we see there is a God who makes them blind.] 

203 

Fascinatio nugacitatis^ — That passion may not harm us, 
let us act as if we had only eight hours to live. 

204 

If we ought to devote eight hours of life, we ought to 
devote a hundred years. 

205 

When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed 
up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I 
fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of 
spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I 
am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than 
there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, 
why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By 
whose order and direction have this place and time been 
alloted to me? Memoria hospitis unius diet prcstereuntis^ 

206 
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me. 

207 
How many kingdoms know us not? 

® " The bewitching of naughtiness." — Wisdom, iv. 12. 

' " The remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day." — Wisdom, v. 14. 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 79 



208 

Why is my knowledge limited? Why my stature? Why 
my life to one hundred years rather than to a thousand? 
What reason has nature had for giving me such, and for 
choosing this number rather than another in the infinity of 
those from which there is no more reason to choose one 
than another, trying nothing else? 

. 209 

Art thou less a slave by being loved and favoured by thy 
master? Thou art indeed well off, slave. Thy master 
favours thee ; he will soon beat thee. 

210 

The last act is tragic, however happy all the rest of the 
play is; at the last a little earth is thrown upon our head, 
and that is the end for ever. 

211 

We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow- 
men. Wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not 
aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if 
we were alone, and in that case should we build fine houses, 
&c.? We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if 
we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more 
than the search for truth. 

212 

Instability. — It is a liorrible thing to feel all that we 
possess slipping away. 

213 

Between us and heaven or hell there is only life, which is 
Ihe frailest thing in the world. 

214 

Injustice. — That presumption should be joined to mean- 
aiess is extreme injustice. 



so PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



215 
To fear death without danger, and not in danger, for one 
must be a man. 

216 

Sudden death alone is feared; hence confessors stay with 
lords. 

217 

An heir finds the title-deeds of his house. Will he say, 
"Perhaps they are forged?" and neglect to examine them? 

218 

Dungeon. — I approve of not examining the opinion of 
Copernicus; but this . . . ! It concerns all our life to 
know whether the soul be mortal or immortal. 

219 

It is certain that the mortality or immortality of the soul 
must make an entire difference to morality. And yet phi- 
losophers have constructed their ethics independently of this : 
they discuss to pass an hour. 

Plato, to incline to Christianity. 

220 

The fallacy of philosophers who have not discussed the 
immortality of the soul. The fallacy of their dilemma in 
Montaigne. 

221 

Atheists ought to say what is perfectly evident; now it 
is not perfectly evident that the soul is material. 

222 

'Atheists.— Whzi reason have they for saying that we can- 
not rise from the dead? What is more difficult, to be born 
or to rise again; that what has never been should be, or 
that what has been should be again? Is it more difficult to 
come into existence than to return to it? Habit makes the 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 81 

one appear easy to us; want of habit makes the other im- 
possible. A popular way of thinking! 

Why cannot a virgin bear a child? Does a hen not lay 
eggs without a cock? What distinguishes these outwardly 
from others? And who has told us that the hen may not 
form the germ as well as the cock? 

223 

What have they to say against the resurrection, and 
against the child-bearing of the Virgin? Which is the 
more difficult, to produce a man or an animal, or to re- 
produce it? And if they had never seen any species of 
animals, could they have conjectured whether they were 
produced without connection with each other? 

224 

How I hate these follies of not believing in the Eucharist, 
&c. ! If the Gospel be true, if Jesus Christ be God, what 
difficulty is there? 

225 

Atheism shows strength of mind, but only to a certain 
degree. 

226 

Infidels, who profess to follow reason, ought to be ex- 
ceedingly strong in reason. What say they then ? " Do we 
not see," say they, " that the brutes live and die like men, 
and Turks like Christians? They have their ceremonies, 
their prophets, their doctors, their saints, their monks, like 
us," &c. (Is this contrary to Scripture? Does it not say 
all this?) 

If you care but little to know the truth, here is enough 
of it to leave you in repose. But if you desire with all your 
heart to know it, it is not enough ; look at it in detail. This 
would be sufficient for a question in philosophy ; but not here, 
where it concerns your all. And yet, after a trifling re- 
flection of this kind, we go to amuse ourselves, &c. Let 
us inquire of this same religion whether it does not give 
a reason for this obscurity; perhaps it will teach it to us. 



S2 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

227 

Order by dialogues. — What ought I to do? I see only 
darkness everywhere. Shall I believe I am nothing? Shall 
I believe I am God? 

"All things change and succeed each other/' You are 
mistaken; there is . . . 

228 
Objection of atheists: "But we have no light" 

229 

This is v^^hat I see and what troubles me. I look on all 
sides, and I see only darkness everywhere. Nature pre- 
sents to me nothing which is not matter of doubt and con- 
cern. If I saw nothing there which revealed a Divinity, 
I would come to a negative conclusion; if I saw every- 
where the signs of a Creator, I would remain peacefully in 
faith. But, seeing too much to deny and too little to be 
sure, I am in a state to be pitied; wherefore I have a hun- 
dred times wished that if a God maintains nature, she should 
testify to Him unequivocally, and that, if the signs she gives 
are deceptive, she should suppress them altogether; that she 
should say everything or nothing, that I might see which 
cause I ought to follow. Whereas in my present state. 
Ignorant of what I am or of what I ought to do, I know 
neither my condition nor my duty. My heart inclines 
wholly to know, where is the true good, in order to follow 
it; nothing would be too dear to me for eternity. 

I envy those whom I see living in the faith with such 
carelessness, and who make such a bad use of a gift 
of which it seems to me I would make such a different 
use. 

230 

It is incomprehensible that God should exist, and it is 
incomprehensible that He should not exist, that the soul 
should be joined to the body, and that we should have no 
soul; that the world should be created, and that it should 



OP THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 8| 

not be created, &c.; that original sin should be, and that 
It should not be. 

231 

Do you believe it to be impossible that God is infinite, 
without parts? — ^Yes. I wish therefore to show you an in- 
finite and indivisible thing. It is a point moving every- 
where with an infinite velocity; for it is one in all places, 
and is all totality in every place. 

Let this effect of nature, which previously seemed to you 
impossible, make you know that there may be others of 
which you are still ignorant. Do not draw this con- 
clusion from your experiment, that there remains nothing 
for you to know; but rather that there remains an infinity 
for you to know. 

232 

Infinite movement, the point which fills everything, the 
moment of rest; infinite without quantity, indivisible and 
infinite. 

233 

Infinite — nothing. — Our soul is cast into a body, where 
it finds number, time, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, 
and calls this nature, necessity, and can believe nothing else. 

Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more 
than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is an- 
nihilated in the presence of the infinite, and becomes a pure 
nothing. So our spirit before God, so our justice before 
divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion be- 
tween our justice and that of God, as between unity and 
infinity. 

The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. 
Now justice to the outcast is less vast, and ought less to 
offend our feelings than mercy towards the elect. 

We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of 
its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, 
it is therefore true that there is an infinity in number. But 
we do not know what it is. It is false that it is even, it is 
false that it is odd; for the addition of a unit can make no 
change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and every number 



84 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

is odd or even (this Is certainly true of every finite number). 
So we may well know that there Is a God without knowing 
what He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there 
are so many things which are not the truth itself? 

We know then the existence and nature of the finite, be- 
cause we also are finite and have extension. We know 
the existence of the Infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, 
because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. But 
we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, be- 
cause He has neither extension nor limits. 

But by faith we know His existence; In glory we shall 
know His nature. Now, I have already shown that we may 
well know the existence of a thing, without knowing its 
nature. 

Let us now speak according to natural lights. 

If there Is a God, He Is Infinitely Incomprehensible, since, 
having neither parts nor limits. He has no affinity to us. We 
are then incapable of knowing either what He is or If He 
is. This being so, who will dare to undertake the decision 
of the question? Not we, who have no affinity to Him. 

Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give 
a reason for their belief, since they profess a religion for 
which they cannot give a reason ? They declare, in expound- 
ing it to the world, that it is a foolishness, stnltitiam; and 
then you complain that they do not prove It ! If they proved 
it, they would not keep their word; it is In lacking proofs, 
that they are not lacking in sense. " Yes, but although this 
excuses those who offer It as such, and takes away from 
them the blame of putting It forward without reason, it does 
not excuse those who receive It." Let us then examine 
this point, and say, " God is, or He is not." But to which 
side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. 
There is an Infinite chaos which separates us. A game is 
being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where 
heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager ? Accord- 
ing to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other ; 
according to reason, you can defend neither of the proposi- 
tions. 

Do not then reprove for error those who have made a 
choice ; for you know nothing about it " No, but I blame 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 85 

them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for 
again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails 
are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true 
course is not to wager at all." 

— Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are 
embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since 
you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You 
have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two 
things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge 
and your happiness ; and your nature has two things to shun, 
error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choos- 
ing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity 
choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let 
us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. 
Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain 
all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then without 
hesitation that He is. — " That is very fine. Yes, I must 
v/ager; but I may perhaps wager too much." — Let us see. 
Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had 
only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. 
But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to 
play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and 
you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not 
to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is 
an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of 
life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an 
infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, 
you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and 
you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to 
stake one life against three at a game in which out of an 
infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an 
infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is 
lere an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance 
of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what 
you stake is finite. It is all divided ; wherever the infinite is 
and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that 
of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all. And 
thus, when one is forced to play, he must renounce reason 
to preserve his life, rather than risk it for infinite gain, as 
likely to happen as the loss of nothingness. 



86 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

For it is no use to say it is uncertain if we will gam, 
and it is certain that we risk, and that the infinite distance 
between the certainty of what is staked and the uncertainty 
of what will be gained, equals the finite good which is 
certainly staked against the uncertain infinite. It is not so, 
as every player stakes a certainty to gain an uncertainty, 
and yet he stakes a finite certainty to gain a finite uncertainty, 
without transgressing against reason. There is not an infinite 
distance between the certainty staked and the uncertainty 
of the gain; that is untrue. In truth, there is an infinity 
between the certainty of gain and the certainty of loss. 
But the uncertainty of the gain is proportioned to the cer- 
tainty of the stake according to the proportion of the chances 
of gain and loss. Hence it comes that, if there are as many 
risks on one side as on the other, the course is to play even; 
and then the certainty of the stake is equal to the uncer- 
tainty of the gain, so far is it from fact that there is an 
infinite distance between them. And so our proposition is of 
infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game 
where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the in- 
finite to gain. This is demonstrable; and if men are capable 
of any truths, this is one. 

" I confess it, I admit it. But still is there no means of 
seeing the faces of the cards?"— Yes, Scripture and the 
rest, &c. — ^**Yes, but I have my hands tied and my mouth 
closed; I am forced to wager, and am not free. I am not 
released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What then 
would you have me do ? " 

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since 
reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. En- 
deavour then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs 
of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would 
like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like 
to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn 
of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake 
all their possessions. These are people who know the way 
which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of 
which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they 
began; by acting as if they believe, taking the holy water, 
having masses said, &c. Even this will naturally make you 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER Bl 

believe, and deaden your acuteness. — " But this is what I am 
afraid of." — And why? What have you to lose? 

But to show you that this leads you there, it is this which 
will lessen the passions, which are your stumbling-blocks. 

The end of this discourse. — Now what harm will befall you 
in taking this side? You will be faithful, honest, humble, 
grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you 
will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; 
but will you not have others ? I will tell you that you will 
thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on 
this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much 
nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognize 
that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for 
which you have given nothing. 

"Ah! This discourse transports me, charms me," &:c. 

If this discourse pleases you and seems impressive, know 
that it is made by a man who has knelt, both before and after 
it, in prayer to that Being, infinite and without parts, before 
whom he lays all he has, for you also to lay before Him 
all you have for your own good and for His glory, that so 
strength may be given to lowliness. 



234 

If we must not act save on a certainty, we ought, not to 
act on religion, for it is not certain. But how many things 
we do on an uncertainty, sea voyages, battles! I say then 
we must do nothing at all, for nothing is certain, and that 
there is more certainty in religion than there is as to whether 
we may see to-morrow; for it is not certain that we 
may see to-morrow, and it is certainly possible that we may 
not see it. We cannot say as much about religion. It is not 
certain that it is; but who will venture to say that it is 
certainly possible that it is not? Now when we work for 
to-morrow, and so on an uncertainty, we act reasonably; 
for we ought to work for an uncertainty according to the 
doctrine of chance which was demonstrated above. 

St. Augustine has seen that we work for an uncertainty, 
on sea, in battle, &c. But he has not seen the doctrine of 
chance which proves that we should do so. Montaigne hag 



eS PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

seen that we ^re shocked at a foo!, and that hat)it is all- 
powerful; bu€ he has not seen the reason of this effect. 

All these persons have seen the effects, but they have not 
seen the causes. They are, in comparison with those who 
have discovered the causes, as those who have only eyes are 
in comparison with those who have intellect. For the effects 
are perceptible by sense, and the causes are visible only to 
the intellect. And although these effects are seen by the 
mind, this mind is, in comparison with the mind which sees 
the causes, as the bodily senses are in comparison with the 
intellect. 

235 

Rem viderunt, causam non vlderunt* 

236 

According to the doctrine of chance, you ought to put 
yourself to the trouble of searching for the truth; for if 
you die without worshipping the True Cause, you are lost. — 
" But," say you, " if He had wished me to worship Him, He 
would have left me signs of His will." — He has done so; but 
you neglect them. Seek them therefore; it is well worth it. 

237 

Chances. — We must live differently in the world, accord- 
ing to these different assumptions: — (i) that we could al- 
ways remain in it; (2) that it is certain that we shall not 
remain here long, and uncertain if we shall remain here one 
hour. This last assumption is our condition. 

238 

What do you then promise me, in addition to certain 
troubles, but ten years of self-love (for ten years is the 
chance), to try hard to please without success? 

239 
Objection. — Those who hope for salvation are so faf 
happy; but they have as a counterpoise the fear of hell 
•"They saw the thing, not the cause. 



OF THE NECESSITY OF THE WAGER 89 

Reply. — Who has most reason to fear hell: he who is in 
ignorance whether there is a hell, and who is certain of 
damnation if there is; or he who certainly beHeves there 
is a hell, and hopes to be saved if there is? 

240 

" I would soon have renounced pleasure," say they, " had 
I faith." For my part I tell you, " You would soon have 
faith, if you renounced pleasure." Now, it is for you to 
begin. If I could, I would give you faith. I cannot do so, 
nor therefore test the truth of what you say. But you can 
well renounce pleasure, and test whether what I say is true. 

241 

Order. — I would have far more fear of being mistaken, 
and of finding that the Christian religion was true, than of 
not being mistaken in believing it true. 



SECTION IV 
Of the Means of Belief 

242 

"T^REFACE to the second part. — To speak of those who 

r"^ have treated of this matter. 

I admire the boldness with which these persons un- 
dertake to speak of God. In addressing their argument to 
infidels, their first chapter is to prove Divinity from the 
works of nature: I should not be astonished at their enter- 
prise, if they were addressing their argument to the faithful; 
for it is certain that those who have the living faith in their 
heart see at once that all existence is none other than the 
work of the God whom they adore. But for those in whom 
this light is extinguished, and in whom we purpose to re- 
kindle it, persons destitute of faith and grace, who, seeking 
with all their light whatever they see in nature that can 
bring them to this knowledge, find only obscurity and dark- 
ness ; to tell them that they have only to look at the smallest 
things which surround them, and they will see God openly, 
to give them, as a complete proof of this great and important 
matter, the course of the moon and planets, and to claim to 
have concluded the proof with such an argument, is to give 
them ground for believing that the proofs of our religion 
are very weak. And I see by reason and experience that 
nothing is more calculated to arouse their contempt. 

It is not after this manner that Scripture speaks, which 
has a better knowledge of the things that are of God. It 
says, on the contrary, that God is a hidden God, and that, 
since the corruption of nature, He has left men in a dark- 
ness from which they can escape only through Jesus Christ, 
without whom all communion with God is cut off. Nemo 
uovit Patrem, nisi Filius, et cui voluerit Filius revelare^ 

& Matthew, xi. 27, 
90 



OF THE MEANS Ol^ BELIEF 91 

This is what Scripture points out to us, when it says in 
so many places that those who seek God find Him. It is 
not of that light, " like the noonday sun," that this is said. 
We do not say that those who seek the noonday sun, or water 
in the sea, shall find them; and hence the evidence of God 
must not be of this nature. So it tells us elsewhere: Vere 
tu es Deus absconditus.* 

243 

It is an astounding fact that no canonical writer has ever 
made use of nature to prove God. They all strive to make 
us believe in Him. David, Solomon, &c., have never said, 
"There is no void, therefore there is a God." They must 
have had more knowledge than the most learned people who 
came after them, and who have all made use of this argu- 
ment. This is worthy of attention. 

244 

"Why! Do you not say yourself that the heavens and 
birds prove God ? " No. "And does your religion not say 
so?" No. For although it is true in a sense for some souls 
lo whom God gives this light, yet it is false with respect to 
Ihe majority of men. 

245 

There are three sources of belief: reason, custom, in- 
spiration. The Christian religion, which alone has reason, 
does not acknowledge as her true children those who believe 
without inspiration. It is not that she excludes reason and 
custom. On the contrary, the mind must be opened to proofs, 
must be confirmed by custom, and offer itself in humbleness 
to inspirations, which alone can produce a true and saving 
effect. Ne evacuetur crux Christi* 

246 

Order. — ^After the letter "that we ought to seek God," 
to write the letter "on removing obstacles"; which is the 
discourse on " the machine," on preparing the machine, on 
seeking by reason. 

* Isaiah» xlv. 15* * t Corinthians, L 17. 



92 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

247 

Order. — A letter of exhortation to a friend to induce him 
to seek. And he will reply, " But what is the use of seeking? 
Nothing is seen." Then to reply to him, " Do not despair." 
And he will answer that he would be glad to find some light, 
but that, according to this very religion, if he believed in 
it, it will be of no use to him, and that therefore he prefers 
not to seek. And to answer to that: The machine. 

248 

A Letter zvhich indicates the use of proofs by the machine. 
— Faith is different from proof; the one is human, the other 
is a gift of God. Justus ex fide vivit.* It is this faith 
that God Himself puts into the heart, of which the proof 
is often the instrument, fides ex auditu;' but this faith is in 
the heart, and makes us not say scio,^ but credoJ 

249 

It is superstition to put one's hope in formalities; but it 
is pride to be unwilling to submit to them. 

250 

The external must be joined to the internal to obtain any- 
thing from God, that is to say, we must kneel, pray with 
the lips, &c., in order that proud man, who would not sub- 
mit himself to God, may be now subject to the creature. 
To expect help from these externals is superstition; to 
refuse to join them to the internal is pride. 

251 

Other religions, as the pagan, are more popular, for 
they consist in externals. But they are not for educated 
people. A purely intellectual religion would be more suited 
to the learned, but it would be of no use to the common 
people. The Christian religion alone is adapted to all, 

♦Romans, i. 17. « Romans, x. 17. •"! know." »*'I believe." 



OF THE MEANS OF BELIEF 93 

being composed of externals and internals. It raises the 
common people to the internal, and humbles the proud to 
the external ; it is not perfect without the two, for the peo- 
ple must understand the spirit of the letter, and the learned 
must submit their spirit to the letter. 



252 

For we must not misunderstand ourselves; we are as 
much automatic as intellectual; and hence it comes that the 
instrument by which conviction is attained is not demon- 
stration alone. How few things are demonstrated? Proofs 
only convince the mind. Custom is the source of our 
strongest and most believed proofs. It bends the autom- 
aton, which persuades the mind without its thinking about 
the matter. Who has demonstrated that there will be a 
to-morrow, and that we shall die? And what is more be- 
lieved? It is then custom which persuades us of it; it 
is custom that makes so many men Christians; custom 
that makes them Turks, heathens, artisans, soldiers, &c. 
(Faith in baptism is more received among Christians than 
among Turks.) Finally, we must have recourse to it when 
once the mind has seen where the truth is, in order to 
quench our thirst, and steep ourselves in that belief, which 
escapes us at every hour; for always to have proofs ready 
is too much trouble. We must get an easier belief, which 
is that of custom, which, without violence, without art, 
without argument, makes us believe things, and inclines 
all our powers to this belief, so that our soul falls naturally 
into it. It is not enough to believe only by force of con- 
viction, when the automaton is inclined to believe the con- 
trary. Both our parts must be made to believe, the mind 
by reasons which it is sufficient to have seen once in a life- 
time, and the automaton by custom, and by not allowing 
it to incline to the contrary. Inclina cor meum, Deiis^ 

The reason acts slowly, with so many examinations, and 
on so many principles, which must be always present, that 
at every hour it falls asleep, or wanders, through want 
of having all its principles present. Feeling does not act 

8 Psalms, cxix. 36. 



94 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

thus; it acts in a moment, and is always ready to act. We 
must then put our faith in feeling; otherwise it will be 
always vacillating. 

253 

Two extremes : to exclude reason, to admit reason only. 



254 

It is not a rare thing to have to reprove the world for 
too much docility. It is a natural vice like credulity, and 
as pernicious. Superstition. 

255 

Piety is different from superstition. 

To carry piety as far as superstition is to destroy it. 

The heretics reproach us for this superstitious submission. 
This is to do what they reproach us for . . . 

Infidelity, not to believe in the Eucharist, because it is 
not seen. 

Superstition to believe propositions. Faith, &c. 

256 

I say there are few true Christians, even as regards 
faith. There are many who believe but from superstition. 
There are many who do not believe solely from wickedness. 
Few are between the two. 

In this I do not include those who are of truly pious 
character, nor all those who believe from a feeling in their 
heart. 

257 
There are only three kinds of persons: those who serve 
God, having found Him; others who are occupied in seeking 
Him, not having found Him; while the remainder live with- 
out seeking Him, and without having found Him. The 
first are reasonable and happy, the last are foolish and un- 
happy; those between are unhappy and reasonable. 



OF THE MEANS OF BELIEF 95 

258 

Unus quisqiie sibi Deum fingit* 
Disgust. 

Ordinary people have the power of not thinking of that 
about which they do not wish to think. " Do not meditate 
on the passages about the Messiah," said the Jew to his 
son. Thus our people often act. Thus are false religions 
preserved, and even the true one, in regard to many persons. 

But there are some who have not the power of thus 
preventing thought, and who think so much the more as 
they are forbidden. These undo false religions, and even 
the true one, if they do not find solid arguments. 

260 

They hide themselves in the press, and call numbers to 
their rescue. Tumult. 

Authority. — So far from making it a rule to believe a 
thing because you have heard it, you ought to believe nothing 
without putting yourself into the position as if you had 
never heard it. 

It is your own assent to yourself, and the constant voice 
of your own reason, and not of others, that should make 
you believe. 

Belief is so important ! A hundred contradictions might 
be true. If antiquity were the rule of belief, men of ancient 
time would then be without rule. If general consent, if 
men had perished? 

False humility, pride. 

Lift the curtain. You try in vain; if you must either 
believe, or deny, or doubt. Shall we then have no rule? 
We judge that animals do well what they do. Is there no 
rule whereby to judge men? 

To deny, to believe, and to doubt well, are to a man 
what the race is to a horse. 

Punishment of those who sin, error. 

® " Each one makes a God for himself,'* 



96 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



261 



Those who do not love the truth take as a pretext that 
it is disputed, and that a multitude deny it. And so their 
error arises only from this, that they do not love either 
truth or charity. Thus they are without excuse. 

262 

Superstition and lust. Scruples, evil desires. Evil fear; 
fear, not such as comes from a belief in God, but such 
as comes from a doubt whether He exists or not. Trufi 
fear comes from faith; false fear comes from doubt. Tru$ 
fear is joined to hope, because it is born of faith, and be 
cause men hope in the God in whom they believe. False fear 
is joined to despair, because men fear the God in whom 
they have no belief. The former fear to lose Him; the 
latter fear to find Him. 

263 

" A miracle," says one, " would strengthen my faith." 
He says so when he does not see one. Reasons, seen from 
afar, appear to limit our view; but when they are reached, 
we begin to see beyond. Nothing stops the nimbleness of 
our mind. There is no rule, say we, which has not some ex- 
ceptions, no truth so general which has not some aspect 
in which it fails. It is sufficient that it be not absolutely 
universal to give us a pretext for applying the exception to 
the present subject, and for saying, " This is not always 
true; there are therefore cases where it is not so." It 
only remains to show that this is one of them; and that is 
why we are very awkward or unlucky, if we do not find 
one some day. 

264 

We do not weary of eating and sleeping every day, for 
hunger and sleepiness recur. Without that we should weary 
of them. So, without the hunger for spiritual things, we 
weary of them. Hunger after righteousness, the eighth 
beatitude. 



OP THE MEANS OF BELIEF 97 

265 

Faith indeed tells what the senses do not tell, but not 
the contrary of what they see. It is above them, and not 
contrary to them. 

266 

How many stars have telescopes revealed to us which 
did not exist for our philosophers of old ! We freely at- 
tack Holy Scripture on the great number of stars, saying, 
" There are only one thousand and twenty-eight, we know 
it." There is grass on the earth, we see it — from the 
moon we would not see it — and on the grass are leaves, 
and in these leaves are small animals; but after that no 
more. — O presumptuous man ! — the compounds are com- 
posed of elements, and the elements not. — O presumptuous 
man ! Here is a fine reflection. — We must not say that 
there is anything which we do not see. — We must then 
talk like others, but not think like them. 

267 

The last proceeding of reason is to recognize that there 
is an infinity of things which are beyond it. It is but 
feeble if it does not see so far as to know this. But if 
natural things are beyond it, what will be said of super- 
natural ? 

268 

Submission. — We must know where to doubt, where to 
feel certain, where to submit. He who does not do so, 
understands not the force of reason. There are some who 
offend against these three rules, either by affirming every- 
thing as demonstrative, from want of knowing what demon- 
stration is; or by doubting everything, from want of know- 
ing where to submit; or by submitting in everything, from 
want of knowing where they must judge. 

269 

Submission is the use of reason in which consists true 
Christianity. 

HC XLVIU (d) 



98 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

270 

St, Augustine. — Reason would never submit, if it did not 
judge that there are some occasions on which it ought to 
submit. It is tken right for it to submit, when it judges 
that it ought to submit. 

271 

Wisdom sends us to childhood. Nisi efUciamini sicut 
parvuli.^" 

272 

There is nothing so conformable to reason as this dis- 
avowal of reason. 

273 
If we submit everything to reason, our religion will have 
no mysterious and supernatural element. If we offend the 
principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and 
ridiculous. 

274 

All our reasoning reduces itself to yielding to feeling. 

But fancy is like, though contrary to feeling, so that 
we cannot distinguish between these contraries. One person 
says that my feeling is fancy, another that his fancy 
is feeling. We should have a rule. Reason offers itself; 
but it is pliable in every sense; and thus there is no rule. 

275 
Men often take their imagination for their heart; and 
they believe they are converted as soon as they think of 
being converted. 

276 

M. de Roannez said: "Reasons come to me afterwards, 
but at first a thing pleases or shocks me without my knowing 
the reason, and yet it shocks me for that reason which I 
only discover afterwards." But I believe, not that it shocked 
him for the reasons which were found afterwards, but 
that these reasons were only found because it shocks him. 

1* Matthew, xviii. 3. 



OF THE MEANS OF BELIEF 99 



277 

The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. 
We feel it in a thousand things. I say that the heart natur- 
ally loves the Universal Being, and also itself naturally, 
according as it gives itself to them; and it hardens itself 
against one or the other at its will. You have rejected the 
one, and kept the other. Is it by reason that you love your- 
self? 

278 

It is the heart which experiences God, and not the rea- 
son. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the 
reason. 

279 

Faith is a gift of God; do not believe that we said it was 
a gift of reasoning. Other religions do not say this of 
their faith. They only gave reasoning in order to arrive 
at it, and yet it does not bring them to it. 

280 

The knowledge of God is very far from the love of 
Him. 

281 

Heart, instinct, principles. 

282 

We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the 
heart, and it is in this last way that we know first prin- 
ciples; and reason, which has no part in it, tries in vain 
to impugn them. The sceptics, who have only this for their 
object, labour to no purpose. We know that we do not 
dream, and however impossible it is for us to prove it by 
reason, this inability demonstrates only the weakness of 
our reason, but not, as they affirm, the uncertainty of all 
our knowledge. For the knowledge of first principles, as 
space, time, motion, number, is as sure as any of those 
which we get from reasoning. And reason must trust these 
intuitions of the heart, and must base on them every argu- 



100 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

ment. (We have intuitive knowledge of the tri-dimensional 
nature of space, and of the infinity of number, and reason 
then shows that there are no two square numbers one 
of which is double of the other. Principles are intuited, 
propositions are inferred, all with certainty, though in 
different ways.) And it is as useless and absurd for reason 
to demand from the heart proofs of her first principles, 
before admitting them, as it would be for the heart to 
demand from reason an intuition of all demonstrated propo- 
sitions before accepting them. 

This inability ought, then, to serve only to humble rea- 
son, which would judge all, but not to impugn our cer- 
tainty, as if only reason were capable of instructing us. 
Would to God, on the contrary, that we had never need of 
it, and that we knew everything by instinct and intuition ! 
But nature has refused us this boon. On the contrary, 
she has given us but very little knowledge of this kind; and 
all the rest can be acquired only by reasoning. 

Therefore, those to whom God has imparted religion 
by intuition are very fortunate, and justly convinced. But 
to those who do not have it, we can give it only by rea- 
soning, waiting for God to give them spiritual insight, with- 
out which faith is only human, and useless for salvation. 

283 

Order. — Against the objection that Scripture has no order. 

The heart has its own order; the intellect has its own, 
which is by principle and demonstration. The heart has 
another. We do not prove that we ought to be loved 
by enumerating in order the causes of love; that would be 
ridiculous. 

Jesus Christ and Saint Paul employ the rule of love, 
not of intellect; for they would warm, not instruct. It is 
the same with Saint Augustine. This order consists chiefly 
in digressions on each point to indicate the end, and keep 
it always in sight. 

284 

Do not wonder to see simple people believe without rea- 
soning. God imparts to them love of Him and hatred of 



OF THE MEANS OF BELIEF ]01 

self. He inclines their heart to believe. Men will never 
believe with a saving and real faith, unless God inclines 
their heart; and they will believe as soon as He inclines 
it. And this is what David knew well, when he said: In- 
clina cor meum, Deus, in . . ." 

285 

Religion is suited to all kinds of minds. Some pay 
attention only to its establishment, and this religion is 
such that its very establishment suffices to prove its truth. 
Others trace it even to the apostles. The more learned go 
back to the beginning of the world. The angels see it better 
still, and from a more distant time. 

286 

Those who believe without having read the Testaments, 
do so because they have an inward disposition entirely 
holy, and all that they hear of our religion conforms to it. 
They feel that a God has made them; they desire only to 
love God; they desire to hate themselves only. They feel 
that they have no strength in themselves; that they are in- 
capable of coming to God; and that if God does not come 
to them, they can have no communion with Him. And 
they hear our religion say that men must love God only, 
and hate self only; but that all being corrupt and unworthy 
of God, God made himself man to unite Himself to us. 
No more is required to persuade men who have this dis- 
position in their heart, and who have this knowledge of their 
duty and of their inefficiency. 

287 

Those whom we see to be Christians without the knowl- 
edge of the prophecies and evidences, nevertheless judge of 
their religion as well as those who have that knowledge. 
They judge of it by the heart, as others judge of it by the 
intellect. God Himself inclines them to believe, and thus 
they are most effectively convinced. 

"• Psalms, cxix. 36. 



102 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

I confess indeed that one of those Christians who be- 
lieve without proofs will not perhaps be capable of con- 
vincing an infidel who will say the same of himself. But 
those who know the proofs of religion will prove without 
difficulty that such a believer is truly inspired by God, though 
he cannot prove it himself. 

For God having said in His prophecies (which are un- 
doubtedly prophecies), that in the reign of Jesus Christ 
He would spread His spirit abroad among nations, and 
that the youths and maidens and children of the Church 
would prophesy; it is certain that the Spirit of God is 
in these, and not in the others. 



288 

Instead of complaining that God has hidden Himself, 
you will give Him thanks for having revealed so much of 
Himself; and you will also give Him thanks for not hav- 
ing revealed Himself to haughty sages, unworthy to know 
so holy a God. 

Two kinds of persons knc^;v Him : those who have a hum- 
ble heart, and who love lowliness, whatever kind of in- 
tellect they may have, high or low; and those who have 
sufficient understanding to see the truth, whatever opposi- 
tion they may have to it. 

289 

Proof. — I. The Christian religion, by its establishment, 
having established itself so strongly, so gently, whilst so 
contrary to nature. — 2. The sanctity, the dignity, and the 
humility of a Christian soul. — 3. The miracles of Holy 
Scripture. — 4. Jesus Christ in particular. — 5. The apostles 
in particular.— 6. Moses and the prophets in particular. — 
7. The Jewish people. — 8. The prophecies. — 9. Perpetuity: 
no religion has perpetuity. — 10. The doctrine which gives 
a reason for everything. — 11. The sanctity of this law. — 
12. By the course of the world. 

Surely, after considering what is life and what is re- 
ligion, we should not refuse to obey the inclination to 



OF THE MEANS OF BELIEF 103 

follow it, if it comes into our heart; and it is certain 
that there is no ground for laughing at those who follow it. 



290 

Proofs of religion. — Morality, Doctrine, Miracles, Prophe- 
cies, Types. 



SECTION V 
Justice and the Reason of Effects 

291 

IN the letter On Injustice can come the ridiculousness 
of the law that the elder gets all. " My friend, you 
were born on this side of the mountain, it is there- 
fore just that your elder brother gets everything." 
"Why do you kill me?" 

292 

He lives on the other side of the water. 

293 

" Why do you kill me ? What ! do you not live on the 
other side of the water? If you lived on this side, my 
friend, I should be an assassin, and it would be unjust to 
slay you in this manner. But since you live on the other 
side, I am a hero, and it is just." 

294 

... On what shall man found the order of the world 
which he would govern? Shall it be on the caprice of 
each individual? What confusion! Shall it be on justice? 
Man is ignorant of it. 

Certainly had he known it, he would not have established 
this maxim, the most general of all that obtain among 
men, that each should follow the customs of his own 
country. The glory of true equity would have brought all 
nations under subjection, and legislators would not have 
taken as their model the fancies and caprice of Persians 
and Germans instead of this unchanging justice. We 
should have seen it set up in all the States on earth and in 

104 



JUSTICE 105 

all times; whereas we see neither justice nor injustice 
which does not change its nature with change in climate. 
Three degrees of latitude reverse all jurisprudence; a 
meridian decides the truth. Fundamental laws change after 
a few years of possession; right has its epochs; the entry 
of Saturn into the lion marks to us the origin of such 
and such a crime. A strange justice that is bounded by a 
river ! Truth on this side of the Pyrenees, error on the 
other side. 

Men admit that justice does not consist in these customs, 
but that it resides in natural laws, common to every coun- 
try. They would certainly maintain it obstinately, if reck- 
less chance which has distributed human laws had en- 
countered even one which was universal; but the farce is 
that the caprice of men has so many vagaries that there 
is no such law. 

Theft, incest, infanticide, patricide, have all had a place 
among virtuous actions. Can anything be more ridiculous 
than that a man should have the right to kill me because 
he lives on the other side of the water, and because his 
ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have none with 
him? 

Doubtless there are natural laws; but good reason once 
corrupted has corrupted all. Nihil ampliiis nostrum est; 
quod nostrum dicimus, artis est} Ex senatus consultis et 
plebiscitis crimina exercentur.^ Ut olim vitiis, sic nunc 
legibus lahoramus* 

The result of this confusion is that one affirms the es- 
sence of justice to be the authority of the legislator; another, 
the interest of the sovereign; another, present custom, 
and this is the most sure. Nothing, according to reason 
alone, is just in itself; all changes with time. Custom 
creates the whole of equity, for the simple reason that it is 
accepted. It is the mystical foundation of its authority; 
whoever carries it "back to first principles destroys it. Noth- 
ing is so faulty as those laws which correct faults. He who 
obeys them because they are just, obeys a justice which 
is imaginary, and not the essence of law; it is quite self- 

1 " We can claim nothing more; what we call ours is art's." _ 

2 " Decrees of the senate and of the people are responsible for crimes. 

3 " As once we suffered from vices, so now from laws." 



106 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

contained, it is law and nothing more. He who will examine 
its motive will find it so feeble and so trifling that if he be 
not accustomed to contemplate the wonders of human im- 
agination, he will marvel that one century has gained for 
it so much pomp and reverence. The art of opposition 
and of revolution is to unsettle established customs, sound- 
ing them even to their source, to point out their want 
of authority and justice. We must, it is said, get back to 
the natural and fundamental laws of the State, which an un- 
just custom has abolished. It is a game certain to result in 
the loss of all; nothing will be just on the balance. Yet peo- 
ple readily lend their ear to such arguments. They shake 
off the yoke as soon as they recognise it; and the great 
profit by their ruin, and by that of these curious investi- 
gators of accepted customs. But from a contrary mistake 
men sometimes think they can justly do everything which 
IS not without an example. That is why the wisest of legis- 
lators said that it was often necessary to deceive men for 
their own good; and another, a, good politician, Cum veri- 
tatem qua liberetur ignoret, expedit qoud fallatur.* We 
must not see the fact of usurpation; law was once intro- 
duced without reason, and has become reasonable. We 
must make it regarded as authoritative, eternal, and con- 
ceal its origin, if we do not wish that it should soon come 
to an end. 

295 
Mine, thine. — " This dog is mine," said those poor chil- 
dren ; " that is my place in the sun." Here is the beginning 
and the image of the usurpation of all the earth. 

296 

When the question for consideration is whether we ought 
to make war, and kill so many men — condemn so many 
Spaniards to death — only one man is judge, and he is an 
interested party. There should be a third, who is dis- 
interested. 

* " When a man does not understand the truth by which he might b© 
freed, it is expedient that he should be deceived."— St. Augustine. 



JUSTICE 107 

297 

Vert jurist — ^We have it no more; if we had it, we 

should take conformity to the customs of a country as the 
rule of justice. It is here that, not finding justice, we have 
found force, &c. 

298 

Justice, Might. — ^It is right that what is just should be 
obeyed; it is necessary that what is strongest should be 
obeyed. Justice without might is helpless; might without 
justice is tyrannical. Justice without might is gainsaid, be- 
cause there are always offenders; might without justice is 
condemned. We must then combine justice and might, and 
for this end make what is just strong, or what is strong 
just. 

Justice is subject to dispute; might is easily recognized 
and is not disputed. So we cannot give might to justice, 
because might has gainsaid justice, and has declared that 
it is she herself who is just. And thus being unable 
to make what is just strong, we have made what is strong 
just. 

299 

The only universal rules are the laws of the country 
in ordinary affairs, and of the majority in others. Whence 
comes this? From the might which is in them. Hence it 
comes that kings, who have power of a different kind, 
do not follow the majority of their ministers. 

No doubt equality of goods is just; but, being unable 
to cause might to obey justice, men have made it just to 
obey might. Unable to strengthen justice, they have justi- 
fied might; so that the just and the strong should unite, 
and there should be peace, which is the sovereign good. 

300 

" When a strong man armed keepeth his goods, his goods 
are in peace." 

e " Of the true law." 



108 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

301 

Why do we follow the majority? Is it because they 
have more reason? No, because they have more power. 

Why do we follow ancient laws and opinions? Is it 
because they are more sound? No, but because they are 
unique, and remove from us the root of difference. 

302 

... It is the effect of might, not of custom. For those 
who are capable of originality are few; the greater number 
will only follow, and refuse glory to those inventors wrio 
seek it by their inventions. And if these are obstinate in 
their wish to obtain glory, and despise those who do not 
invent, the latter will call them ridiculous names, and would 
beat them with a stick. Let no one then boast of his 
subtiliiy, or let him keep his complacency to himself. 

303 
Might is the sovereign of the world, and not opinion. — 
But opinion makes use of might. — It is might that makes 
opinion. Gentleness is beautiful in our opinion. Why? 
Because he who will dance on a rope will be alone, and I 
will gather a stronger mob of people who will say that it 
is unbecoming. 

304 

The cords which bind the respect of men to each other 
are in general cords of necessity; for there must be different 
degrees, all men wishing to rule, and not all being able to 
do so, but some being able. 

Let us then imagine we see society in the process of 
formation. Men will doubtless fight till the stronger party 
overcomes the weaker, and a dominant party is established. 
But when this is once determined, the masters, who do not 
desire the continuation of strife, then decree that the power 
which is in their hands shall be transmitted as they please. 
Some place it in election by the people, others in hereditary 
succession, &c. 



JUSTICE 109 

And this is the point where imagination begins to play 
its part. Till now power makes fact; now power is sus- 
tained by imagination in a certain party, in France in the 
nobility, in Switzerland in the burgesses, &c. 

These cords which bind the respect of men to such and 
such an individual are therefore the cords of imagination. 



30s 

The Swiss are offended by being called gentlemen, and 
prove themselves true plebeians in order to be thought 
worthy of great office. 

306 

As duchies, kingships, and magistracies are real and nec- 
essary, because might rules all, they exist everywhere and 
always. But since only caprice makes such and such a 
one a ruler, the principle is not constant, but subject to varia- 
tion, &c. 

307 

The chancellor is grave, and clothed with ornaments, for 
his position is unreal. Not so the king, he has power, and 
has nothing to do with the imagination. Judges, physicians, 
&c., appeal only to the imagination. 



308 

The habit of seeing kings accompanied by guards, drums, 
officers, and all the paraphernalia which mechanically inspire 
respect and awe, makes their countenance, when sometimes 
seen alone without these accompaniments, impress respect 
and awe on their subjects; because we cannot separate 
in thought their persons from the surroundings with which 
we see them usually joined. And the world, which knows 
not that this effect is the result of habit, believes that 
it arises by a natural force, whence come these words, 
"The character of Divinity is stamped on his counte- 
nance," &c. 



110 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



309 

Justice. — ^As custom determines what is agreeable, so also 
does it determine justice. 

310 

King and tyrant. — I, too, will keep my thoughts secret. 

I will take care on every journey. 

Greatness of establishment, respect for establishment. 

The pleasure of the great is the power to make people 
happy. 

The property of riches is to be given liberally. 

The property of each thing must be sought. The property 
of power is to protect. 

When force attacks humbug, when a private soldier takes 
the square cap off a first president, and throws it out of the 
window. 

The government founded on opinion and imagination 
reigns for some time, and this government is pleasant and 
voluntary; that founded on might lasts for ever. Thus 
opinion is the queen of the world, but might is its tyrant. 

312 

Justice is what is established; and thus all our established 
laws will necessarily be regarded as just without examina- 
tion, since they are established. 

313 

Sound opinions of the people, — Civil wars are the greatest 
of evils. They are inevitable, if we wish to reward desert; 
for all will say they are deserving. The evil we have to fear 
from a fool who succeeds by right of birth, is neither so great 
nor so sure. 

314 
God has created all for Himself. He has bestowed upon 
Himself the power of pain and pleasure. 



Vc 



JUSTICE 111 



^ou can apply it to God, or to yourself. If to God, the 
Gospel is the rule. If to yourself, you will take the place 
of God. As God is surrounded by persons full of charity, 
who ask of Him the blessings of charity that are in His 
power, so . . . Recognise then and learn that you are only 
a king of lust, and take the ways of lust. 

315 

The Reason of effects, — ^It is wonderful that men would 
not have me honour a man clothed in brocade, and followed 
by seven or eight lackeys ! Why I He will have me thrashed, 
if I do not salute him. This custom is a force. It is the 
same with a horse in fine trappings in comparison with an- 
other ! Montaigne is a fool not to see what difference there 
IS, to wonder at our finding any, and to ask the reason. 
** Indeed," says he, " how comes it," &c. . . . 

316 

Sound opinions of the people, — To be spruce is not alto- 
gether foolish, for it proves that a great number of people 
work for one. It shows by one's hair, that one has a valet, 
a perfumer, &c., by one's band, thread, lace, . . . &c. 
Now it is not merely superficial nor merely outward show to 
have many arms at command. The more arms one has, the 
more powerful one is. To be spruce is to show one's power* 

317 

Deference means, ** Put yourself to inconvenience." This 
is apparently silly, but is quite right. For it is to say, **I 
would indeed put myself to inconvenience if you required it, 
since indeed I do so when it is of no service to you." Def- 
erence further serves to distinguish the great. Now if 
deference was displayed by sitting in an arm-chair, we 
should show deference to everybody, and so no distinction 
would be made; but, being put to inconvenience, we dis- 
tinguish very well. 

He has four lackeys. 



112 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



319 

How rightly do we distinguish men by external aopear- 
ances rather than by internal qualities! Which of us two 
shall have precedence? Who will give place to the other? 
The least clever. But I am as clever as he. We should 
have to fight over this. He has four lackeys, and I 
have only one. This can be seen; we have only to count. 
It falls to me to yield, and I am a fool if I contest the matter. 
By this means we are at peace, which is the greatest of boons. 

320 

The most unreasonable things in the world become most 
reasonable, because of the unruliness of men. What is less 
reasonable than to choose the eldest son of a queen to rule 
a State? We do not choose as captain of a ship the pas- 
senger who is of the best family. 

This law would be absurd and unjust ; but because men are 
so themselves, and always will be so, it becomes reasonable 
and just. For whom will men choose, as the most virtuous 
and able? We at once come to blows, as each claims to be 
the most virtuous and able. Let us then attach this quality 
to something indisputable. This is the king's eldest son. 
That is clear, and there is no dispute. Reason can do no 
better, for civil war is the greatest of evils. 

321 

Children are astonished to see their comrades respected. 

322 

To be of noble birth is a great advantage. In eighteen 
years it places a man within the select circle, known and 
respected, as another would have merited in fifty years. It 
is a gain of thirty years without trouble. 

323 

What is the Ego? 

Suppose a man puts himself at a window to see those 



JUSTICE lis 

who pass by. If I pass by, can I say that he placed himself 
there to see me? No; for he does not think of me in 
particular. But does he who loves some one on account of 
beauty really love that person? No; for the small-pox, 
which will kill beauty without killing the person, will cause 
him to love her no more. 

And if one loves me for my judgment, memory, he does 
not love me, for I can lose these qualities without losing my- 
self. Where then is this Ego, if it be neither in the body 
nor in the soul? And how love the body or the soul, except 
for these qualities which do not constitute me, since they 
are perishable? For it is impossible and would be unjust 
to love the soul of a person in the abstract, and whatever 
qualities might be therein. We never then love a person, 
but only qualities. 

Let us then jeer no more at those who are honoured on 
account of rank and office; for we love a person only on 
account of borrowed qualities. 

324 
The people have very sound opinions, for example : 

1. In having preferred diversion and hunting to poetry. 
The half-learned laugh at it, and glory in being above the 
folly of the world; but the people are right for a reason 
which these do not fathom. 

2. In having distinguished men by external marks, as 
birth or wealth. The world again exults in showing how 
unreasonable this is; but it is very reasonable. Savages 
laugh at an infant king. 

3. In being offended at a blow, or in desiring glory so 
much. But it is very desirable on account of the other 
essential goods which are joined to it; and a man who has 
received a blow, without resenting it, is overwhelmed with 
taunts and indignities. 

4. In working for the uncertain; in sailing on the sea; 
in walking over a plank. 

325 
Montaigne is wrong. Custom should be followed only 
because it is custom, and not because it is reasonable or 



il4 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

just. But people follow it for this sole reason, that ihey 
think it just. Otherwise they would follow it no Icnger, 
although it were the custom; for they will only submit to 
reason or justice. Custom without this would pass for 
tyranny; but the sovereignty of reason and justice is no 
more tyrannical than that of desire. They are principles 
natural to man. 

It would therefore be right to obey laws and customs, 
because they are laws; but we should know that there is 
neither truth nor justice to introduce into them, that we 
know nothing of these, and so must follow what is accepted. 
By this means we would never depart from them. But the 
people cannot accept this doctrine; and, as they believe that 
truth can be found, and that it exists in law and custom, 
they believe them, and take their antiquity as a proof of 
their truth, and not simply of their authority apart from 
truth. Thus they obey laws, but they are liable to revolt 
when these are proved to be valueless ; and this can be shown 
of all, looked at from a certain aspect. 

326 

Injustice. — It is dangerous to tell the people that the laws 
are unjust; for they obey them only because they think 
them just. Therefore it is necessary to tell them at the 
same time that they must obey them because they are laws, 
just as they must obey superiors, not because they are just, 
but because they are superiors. In this way all sedition is 
prevented, if this can be made intelligible, and it be under- 
stood what is the proper definition of justice. 

327 

The world is a good judge of things, for it is in natural 
ignorance, which is man's true state. The sciences have 
two extremes which meet. The first is the pure natural 
ignorance in which all men find themselves at birth. The 
other extreme is that reached by great intellects, who, having 
run through all that men can know, find they know nothing, 
and come back again to that same ignorance from which they 
set out; but this is a learned ignorance which is conscious of 



JUSTICE lis 

Itself. Those between the two, who have departed from 
natural ignorance and not been able to reach the other, 
have some smattering of this vain knowledge, and pretend 
to be wise. These trouble the world, and are bad judges 
of everything. The people and the wise constitute the 
world; these despise it, and are despised. They judge badly 
of everything, and the world judges rightly of them. 

328 

The reason of effects. — Continual alternation of pro and 
con. 

We have then shown that man is foolish, by the estimation 
he makes of things which are not essential; and all these 
opinions are destroyed. We have next shown that all these 1 
opinions are very sound, and that thus, since all these 
vanities are well founded, the people are not so foolish as is 
said. And so we have destroyed the opinion which destroyed 
that of the people. 

But we must now destroy this last proposition, and show 
that It remains always true that the people are foolish, 
though their opinions are sound; because they do not per- 
ceive the truth where It Is, and, as they place It where It Is 
not, their opinions are always very false and very unsound. 

329 

The weakness of man is the reason why so many things 
are considered fine, as to be good at playing the lute. 
It is only an evil because o£ our weakness. 

330 

The power of kings is founded on the reason and on the 
folly of the people, and specially on their folly. The great- 
est and most important thing In the world has weakness for 
its foundation, and this foundation is wonderfully sure; for 
there is nothing more sure than this, that the people will be 
weak. What is based on sound reason is very ill founded, ' 
as the estimate of wisdom. 



116 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



331 
We can only think of Plato and Aristotle in grand aca- 
demic robes. They were honest men, like others, laughing 
with their friends, and when they diverted themselves with 
writing the Laws and the Politics, they did it as an amuse- 
ment. That part of their life was the least philosophic and 
the least serious ; the most philosophic was to live simply and 
quietly. If they wrote on politics, it was as if laying down 
rules for a lunatic asylum; and if they presented the ap- 
pearance of speaking of a great matter, it was because they 
knew that the madmen, to whom they spoke, thought they 
were kings and emperors. They entered into their principles 
in order to make their madness as little harmful as possible. 



332 

Tyranny consists in the desire of universal power beyond 
its scope. 

There are different assemblies of the strong, the fair, the 
sensible, the pious, in which each man rules at home, not 
elsewhere. And sometimes they meet, and the strong and the 
fair foolishly fight as to who shall be master, for their 
mastery is of different kinds. They do not understand one 
another, and their fault is the desire to rule everywhere. 
Nothing can effect this, not even might, which is of no use 
in the kingdom of the wise, and is only mistress of external 
actions. 

Tyranny. — ... So these expressions are false and tyran- 
nical : " I am fair, therefore I must be feared. I am strong, 
therefore I must be loved. I am . . ." 

Tyranny is the wish to have in one way what can only 
be had in another. We render different duties to different 
merits; the duty of love to the pleasant; the duty of fear to 
the strong; the duty of belief to the learned. 

We must render these duties ; it is unjust to refuse them, 
and unjust to ask others. And so it is false and tyrannical 
to say, "He is not strong, therefore I will not esteem him; 
he is not able, therefore I will not fear him." 



JUSTICE 117 

333 
Have you never seen people who, in order to complain 
of the little fuss you make about them, parade before you 
the example of great men who esteem them? In answer 
I reply to them, " Show me the merit whereby you have 
charmed these persons, and I also will esteem you.'* 

334 

The reason of effects. — Lust and force are the source of 
all our actions; lust causes voluntary actions, force invol- 
untary ones. 

335 
The reason of effeets. — It is then true to say that all the 
world is under a delusion ; for, although the opinions of the 
people are sound, they are not so as conceived by them, 
since they think the truth to be where it is not. Truth is 
indeed in their opinions, but not at the point where they 
imagine it. [Thus] it is true that we must honour noblemen, 
but not because noble birth is real superiority, &c. 

336 

The reason of effeets. — We must keep our thought secret, 
and judge everything by it, while talking like the people. 

337 

The reason of effects. — Degrees. The people honour per- 
sons of high birth. The semi-learned despise them, saying 
that birth is not a personal, but a chance superiority. The 
learned honour them, not for popular reasons, but for secrql 
reasons. Devout persons, who have more zeal than knowl- 
edge, despise them, in spite of that consideration whicl 
makes them honoured by the learned, because they judg< 
them by a new light which piety gives them. But perfect 
Christians honour them by another and higher light. So 
arise a succession of opinions for and against, according to 
the light one has. 



118 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

338 

True Christians nevertheless comply with folly, not be- 
cause they respect folly, but the command of God, who for 
the punishment of men has made them subject to these 
follies. Omnis creatiira subjecta est vanitati. Liberabitur.^ 
Thus Saint Thomas explains the passage in Saint James on 
giving place to the rich, that if they do it not in the sight of 
God, they depart from the command of religion. 

•Romans, viii. 20-21. 



SECTION VI 
The Philosophers 

339 

I CAN well conceive a man without hands, feet, head (for 
it is only experience which teaches us that the head is 
more necessary than feet). But I cannot conceive man 
without thought; he would be a stone or a brute. 

340 

The arithmetical machine produces effects which approach 
nearer to thought than all the actions of animals. But it 
does nothing which would enable us to attribute will to it, 
as to the animals. 

341 

The account of the pike and frog of Liancourt. They do 
it always, and never otherwise, nor any other thing showing 
mind. 

342 

If an animal did by mind what it does by instinct, and if 
it spoke by mind what it speaks by instinct, in hunting, and in 
warning its mates that the prey is found or lost; it would 
indeed also speak in regard to those things which affect it 
closer, as example, *' Gnaw me this cord which is wounding 
me, and which I cannot reach." 

343 
The beak of the parrot, which it wipes, although it is 
clean. 

344 
Instinct and reason, marks of two natures. 

119 



120 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



345 
Reason commands us far more imperiously than a master ; 
for in disobeying the one we are unfortunate, and in dis- 
obeying the other we are fools. 

346 

Thought constitutes the greatness of man. 

347 

Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he 
is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself 
to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill him. 
But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be 
more noble than that which killed him, because he knows 
that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over 
him ; the universe knows nothing of this. 

All our dignity consists then in thought. By it we must 
elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot 
fill. Let us endeavour then to think well ; this is the principle 
of morality. 

348 

A thinking reed. — It is not from space that I must seek my 
dignity, but from the government of my thought. I shall 
have no more if I possess worlds. By space the universe 
encompasses and swallows me up like an atom; by thought 
I comprehend the world. 

349 
Immateriality of the soul. — Philosophers who have mas- 
tered their passions. What matter could do that? 

350 

The Stoics.-^They conclude thai what has been done once 
can be done always, and that since the desire of glory im- 
parts some power to those whom it possesses, others can 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 121 

well do likewise. There are feverish movements which 
health cannot imitate. 

Epictetus concludes that since there are consisteiit Chris- 
tians, every man can easily be so. 



351 

Those great spiritual efforts, which the soul sometimes 
essays, are things on which it does not lay hold. It only 
leaps to them, not as upon a throne, for ever, but merely 
for an instant. 

352 

The strength of a man's virtue must not be measured by 
his efforts, but by his ordinary life. 



353 
T do not admire the excess of a virtue as of valour, except 
I see at the same time the excess of the opposite virtue, as 
in Epamlnondas, who had the greatest valour and the great- 
est kindness. For otherwise it is not to rise, it is to fall. 
We do not display greatness by going to one extreme, but in 
touching both at once, and filling all the intervening space. 
But perhaps this is only a sudden movement of the soul 
from one to the other extreme, and in fact it is ever at one 
point only, as in the case of a firebrand. Be it so, but at 
least this indicates agility, if not expanse of soul. 



354 

Man's nature is not always to advance ; it has Its advances 
and retreats. 

Fever has its cold and hot fits; and the cold proves as 
well as the hot the greatness of the fire of fever. 

The discoveries of men from age to age turn out the same. 
The kindness and the malice of the world in general are the 
same. Pleriimque gratcB principihiis vices} 

^ " Changes are usually pleasing to princes." — Horace. 



122 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

355 

Continuous eloquence wearies. 

Princes and kings sometimes play. They are not always 
on their thrones. They weary there. Grandeur must be 
abandoned to be appreciated. Continuity in everything is 
unpleasant. Cold is agreeable, that we may get warm. 

Nature acts by progress, itus et reditus. It goes and re- 
turns, then advances further, then twice as much backwards, 
then more forward than ever, &c. 

The tide of the sea behaves in the same manner; and so 
apparently does the sun in its course. 

356 

The nourishment of the body is little by little. Fulness of 
nourishment and smallness of substance. 

357 

When we would pursue virtues to their extremes on either 
side, vices present themselves, which insinuate themselves 
insensibly there, in their insensible journey towards the in- 
finitely little; and vices present themselves in a crowd to- 
wards the infinitely great, so that we lose ourselves in them, 
and no longer see virtues. Wc find fault with perfection 
itself. 

358 

Man is neither angel nor brute, and the unfortunate thing 
is that he who would act the angel acts the brute. 

359 

We do not sustain ourselves in virtue by our own strength, 
but by the balancing of two opposed vices, just as we remain 
upright amidst two contrary gales. Remove one of the 
vices, and we fall into the other. 

360 

What the Stoics propose is so difficult and foolish! 

The Stoics lay down that all those who are not at the high 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 123 

degree of wisdom are equally foolish and vicious, as those 
who are two inches under water. 



361 

The Sovereign good. Dispute about the sovereign good. 
— Ut sis contentiis temetipso et ex te nascentibus bonis.^ 
There is a contradiction, for in the end they advise suicide. 
Oh ! What a happy life, from which we are to free ourselves 
as from the plague ! 

362 

Ex senatus-consultis et plebiscitis , , . 
To ask like passages. 

363 

Ex senatus-consultis et plebiscitis scelera exercentur. Sen. 
588.*^ . 

Nihil tarn absiirde did potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo 
philosophorum.* Divin. 

Quibusdam destinatis senfentiis consecrati quae non probanf 
coguntur defendere.^ Cic. 

Ut omnium rerum sic litterarum quoque intemperantia 
laboramus!^ Senec. 

Id maxime quemque decet, quod est cujusque suum 
maxim e.^ 

Hos natura modos primiim dedit.^ 

Faucis opus est litteris ad bonam mentem* 

Si quando turpe non sit, tamen non est non turpe quum 
id ab multitudine laudetur}^ 

Mihi sic usus est, tibi ut opus est facto, fac}^ Ter. 

2 " That you may be contented with yourself and the good things that 
spring from you." — Seneca. 

* " Decrees of the senate and of the people are responsible for crimes." 

* " Nothing can be said so absurd that it may not be said by some 
philosopher." — Cicero. 

^ " Those who are given over to certain preconceived ideas are forced to 
defend what they cannot prove," 

® " In literature as in all things, we labor in excess.'* 

'' " That becomes any one best which is most his own." — Cicero. 

* " Nature first gave those customs." — Virgil. 

^ " For the good mind few books are necessary." 

^° " If perchance a thing is not base, it does not escape baseness by being 
praised by the crowd." 

u « That is my custom; you must do as necessity bids." 



224 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Rarum est enim ut satis se quisque vereatiir.^ 
Tot circa unum caput tumultuantes deos^ 
Nihil turpius quam cognitioni assertionem prtecurrereJ^ 
Cic. 
Nee me pudet, ut istos, fateri nescire quid nesciam}^ 
Melius non incipiet?^ 

365 

Thought. — All the dignity of man consists in thought. 
Thought is therefore by its nature a wonderful and incom- 
parable thing. It must have strange defects to be con- 
temptible. But it has such, so that nothing is more ridiculous. 
How great it is in its nature ! How vile it is in its defects ! 

But what is this thought? How foolish it is! 

366 

The mind of this sovereign judge of the world is not so 
independent that it is not liable to be disturbed by the first 
din about it. The noise of a cannon is not necessary to 
hinder its thoughts ; it needs only the creaking of a weather- 
cock or a pulley. Do not wonder if at present it does not 
reason well; a fly is buzzing in its ears; that is enough to 
render it incapable of good judgment. If you wish it to be 
able to reach the truth, chase away that animal which holds 
its reason in check and disturbs that powerful intellect which 
rules towns and kingdoms. Here is a comical god! O 
ridicolosissimo eroe .'" 

367 
The power of flies: they win battles, hinder our soul from 
acting, eat our body. 

^- " It is a rare thing for any one to fear himself ^enough.'* 

"" So many gods brawling around one poor man. ' , , . 

'* " There is nothing more unseemly than to understand before the thing 
has been stated." , 

'= " I am not ashamed, as your friends are, to confess that I do not kno\S 
what I do not know." 

>«"He will not begin better (than he can finish). — Seneca. 

IT " O most ridiculous hero." 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 125 

368 

When it is said that heat is only the motion of certain 
molecules, and light the conatus recedendi which we feel, it 
astonishes us. What ! Is pleasure only the ballet of our 
spirits ? We have conceived so different an idea of it ! And 
these sensations seem so removed from those others which 
we say are the same as those with which we compare them ! 
The sensation from the fire, that warmth which affects us in 
a manner wholly different from touch, the reception of sound 
and light, all this appears to us mysterious, and yet it is 
material like the blow of a stone. It is true that the small- 
ness of the spirits which enter into the pores touches other 
nerves, but there are always some nerves touched. 

369 

Memory is necessary for all the operations of reason. 

370 

[Chance gives rise to thoughts, and chance removes them ; 
no art can keep or acquire them. 

A thought has escaped me. I wanted to write it down. 
I write instead, that it has escaped me.] 

371 

[When I was small, I hugged my book; and because it 
sometimes happened to me to . . . in believing I hugged 
it, I doubted. . . .] 

372 

In writing down my thought, it sometimes escapes me; 
but this makes me remember my weakness, that I constantly 
forget. This is as instructive to me as my forgotten thought ; 
for I strive only to know my nothingness. 

373 
Scepticism. — I shall here write my thoughts without order, 
and not perhaps in unintentional confusion; that is true 



126 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

order, which will always indicate my object by its very 
disorder. I should do too much honour to my subject, if I 
treated it with order, since I want to show that it is incapable 
of it. 



374 

What astonishes me most is to see that all the world 
is not astonished at its own weakness. Men act seriously, 
and each follows his own mode of life, not because it is in 
fact good to follow since it is the custom, but as if each man 
knew certainly where reason and justice are. They find 
themselves continually deceived, and by a comical humility 
think it is their own fault, and not that of the art which they 
claim always to possess. But it is well there are so many 
such people in the world, who are not sceptics for the glory 
of scepticism, in order to show that man is quite capable of 
the most extravagant opinions, since he is capable of be- 
lieving that he is not in a state of natural and inevitable 
weakness, but, on the contrary, of natural wisdom. 

Nothing fortifies scepticism more than that there are some 
who are not sceptics ; if all were so, they would be wrong. 



375 

[I have passed a great part of my life believing that there 
was justice, and in this I was not mistaken; for there is 
justice according as God has willed to reveal it to us. But 
I did not take it so, and this is where I made a mistake ; for 
I believe that our justice was essentially just, and that I had 
that whereby to know and judge of it. But I have so often 
found my right judgment at fault, that at last I have come 
to distrust myself, and then others. I have seen changes 
in all nations and men, and thus after many changes of 
judgment regarding true justice, I have recognised that our 
nature was but in continual change, and I have not changed 
since; and if I changed, I would confirm my opinion. 

The sceptic Arcesilaus, who became a dogmatist.] 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 127 

376 

This sect derives more strength from its enemies than 
from its friends; for the weakness of man is far more evi- 
dent in those who know it not than in those who know it. 

377 

Discourses on humility are a source of pride in the vain, 
and of humility in the humble. So those on scepticism cause 
believers to affirm. Few men speak humbly of humility, 
chastely of chastity, few doubtingly of scepticism. We are 
only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and 
disguise ourselves from ourselves. 

378 

Scepticism. — Excess, like defect of intellect, is accused 
of madness. Nothing is good but mediocrity. The majority 
has settled that, and finds fault with him who escapes it at 
whichever end. I will not oppose it. I quite consent to put 
myself there, and refuse to be at the lower end, not because 
it is low, but because it is an end; for I would likewise 
refuse to be placed at the top. To leave the mean is to 
abandon humanity. The greatness of the human soul con- 
sists in knowing how to preserve the mean. So far from 
greatness consisting in leaving it, it consists in not leaving it 

379 

It is not good to have too much liberty. It is not good to 
have all one wants. 

380 

All good maxims are in the world. We only need to 
apply them. For instance, we do not doubt that we ought to 
risk our lives in defence of the public good; but for religion, 
no. 

It is true there must be inequality among men; but if 
this be conceded, the door is opened not only to the highest 
power, but to the highest tyranny. 

We must relax our minds a little ; but this opens the door 



128 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

to the greatest debauchery. Let us mark the limits. There 
are no limits in things. Laws would put them there, and the 
mind cannot suffer it. 

381 

When we are too young, we do not judge well; so, also, 
when we are too old. If we do not think enough, or if we 
think too much on any matter, we get obstinate and in- 
fatuated about it. If one considers one's work immediately 
after having done it, one is entirely prepossessd in its favour ; 
by delaying too long, one can no longer enter into the spirit 
of it. So with pictures seen from too far or too near ; there 
is but one exact point which is the true place wherefrom to 
look at them : the rest are too near, too far, too high, or too 
low. Perspective determines that point in the art of paint- 
ing. But who shall determine it in truth and morality? 

382 

When all is equally agitated, nothing appears to be agitated, 
as in a ship. When all tend to debauchery, none appears to 
do so. He who stops draws attention to the excess of others, 
like a fixed point. 

383 

The licentious tell men of orderly lives that they stray 
from nature's path, while they themselves follow it ; as people 
in a ship think those move who are on the shore. On all 
sides the language is similar. We must have a fixed point 
in order to judge. The harbour decides for those who are 
in a ship ; but where shall we find a harbour in morality ? 

384 

Contradiction is a bad sign of truth ; several things which 
are certain are contradicted; several things which are false 
pass without contradiction. Contradiction is not a sign of 
falsity, nor the want of contradiction a sign of truth. 

385 

Scepticism. — Each thing here is partly true and partly 
false. Essential truth is not so; it is altogether pure and 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 129 

altogether true. This mixture dishonours and annihilates 
it. Nothing is purely true, and thus nothing is true, mean- 
ing by that pure truth. You will say it is true that homicide 
is wrong. Yes; for we know well the wrong and the false. 
But what will you say is good? Chastity? I say no; for 
the world would come to an end. Marriage? No; con- 
tinence is better. Not to kill? No; for lawlessness would 
be horrible, and the wicked would kill all the good. To 
kill? No; for that destroys nature. We possess truth and 
goodness only in part, and mingled with falsehood and evil. 

386 

If we dreamt the same thing every night, it would affect 
us as much as the objects we see every day. And if an 
artisan were sure to dream every night for twelve hours* 
duration that he was a king, I believe he would be almost 
as happy as a king, who should dream every night for twelve 
hours on end that he was an artisan. 

If we were to dream every night that we were pursued 
by enemies, and harassed by these painful phantoms, or 
that we passed every day in different occupations, as in mak- 
ing a voyage, we should suffer almost as much as if it were 
real, and should fear to sleep, as we fear to wake when we 
dread in fact to enter on such mishaps. And, indeed, it 
would cause pretty nearly the same discomforts as the 
reality. 

But since dreams are all different, and each single one is 
diversified, what is seen in them affects us much less than 
what we see when awake, because of its continuity, which 
is not, however, so continuous and level as not to change too ; 
but it changes less abruptly, except rarely, as when we 
travel, and then we say, " It seems to me I am dreaming." 
For life is a dream a little less inconstant. 



387 

[It may be that there are true demonstrations; but this 
h not certain. Thus, this proves nothing else but that it is 
not certain that all is uncertain, to the glory of scepticism.] 

HC XLvni (e) 



130 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

388 

Good sense. — They are compelled to say, "You are not 
acting in good faith; we are not asleep," &c. How I love 
to see this proud reason humiliated and suppliant! For 
this is not the language of a man whose right is disputed, and 
who defends it with the power of armed hands. He is not 
foolish enough to declare that men are not acting in good 
faith, but he punishes this bad faith with force. 

389 

Ecclesiastes shows that man without God is in total igno- 
rance and inevitable misery. For it is wretched to have the 
wish, but not the power. Now he would be happy and 
assured of some truth, and yet he can neither know, nof 
desire not to know. He cannot even doubt. 

390 

My God ! How foolish this talk is ! " Would God have 
made the world to damn it? Would He ask so much from 
persons so weak ? ** &c. Scepticism is the cure for this evil, 
and will take down this vanity. 

391 

Conversation. — Great words to religion. I deny it 
Conversation. — Scepticism helps religion. 

392 

Against Scepticism.-— I ... It is, then, a strange fact 
that we cannot define these things without obscuring them, 
while we speak of them with all assurance.] We assume that 
all conceive of them in the same way; but we assume it 
quite gratuitously, for we have no proof of it. I see, in 
truth, that the same words are applied on the same occasions, 
and that every time two men see a body change its place, 
they both express their view of this same fact by the same 
word, both saying that it has moved; and from this con- 
formity of application we derive a strong conviction of a 



THB PHILOSOPHBRS 131 

conformity of ideas. But this is not absolutely or fina% son* 
vincing, though there is enough to support a bet en the 
affirmative, since we know that we often draw the same con- 
clusions from different premises. 

This is enough, at least, to obscure the matter ; not that it 
completely extinguishes the natural light which assures us 
of these things. The academicians would have won. But 
this dulls it, and troubles the dogmatists to the glory of the 
sceptical crowd, which consists in this doubtful ambiguity, 
and in a certain doubtful dimness, from which our doubts 
cannot take away all the clearness, nor our own natural 
lights chase away all the darkiiess. 

393 

It is a singular thing to consider that there are people 
in the world, who, having renounced all the laws of God and 
nature, have made laws for themselves which they strictly 
obey, as, for instance, the soldiers of Mahomet, robbers, 
heretics, &c. It is the same with logicians, it seems that 
their licence must be without any limits or barriers, since 
they have broken through so many that are so just and 
sacred. 

194 

All the principles of sceptics, stoics, atheists, Src.» arfc 
true. But their conclusions are false, because the opposite 
principles are also truec 

395 

Instinct, Reason,---We have an incapacity of proof. In- 
surmountable by all dogmatism. We have an idea of truth., 
invincible to all scepticism. 

39^ 

Two things instruct man about his whole nature; instincs 
and experience 

m 

The greatness of man Is great in that he knows himself 
to be miserablei A tree; does not know stself to be miserable. 
It is then being miserable to know oneself to be miserable- 
but it Is also being great to know that one is miserable. 



132 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

398 

All these same miseries prove man's greatness. They are 
the miseries of a great lord, of a deposed king. 

399 
We are not miserable without feeling it, A ruined house 
is not miserable. Man only is miserable. Ego vir videns^^ 

400 

The greatness of man. — We have so great an idea of the 
soul of man that we cannot endure being despised, or not 
being esteemed by any soul; and all the happiness of men 
consists in this esteem. 

401 

Glory, — The brutes do not admire each other. A horse 
does not admire his companion. Not that there is no rivalry 
between them in a race, but that is of no consequence; for, 
when in the stable, the heaviest and most ill-formed does not 
give up his oats to another as men would have others do to 
them. Their virtue is satisfied with itself. 

402 

The greatness of man even in his lust, to have known how 
to extract from it a wonderful code, and to have drawn from 
it a picture of benevolence. 

403 

Greatness. — The reasons of effects indicate the greatness 
of man, in having extracted so fair an order from lust. 

404 

The greatest baseness of man is the pursuit of glory. 
But it is also the greatest mark of his excellence ; for what- 
ever possessions he may have on earth, whatever health and 
essential comfort, he is not satisfied if he has not the esteem 
of men. He values human reason so highly rhat, whatever 

18 «* I am the man (that hath seen affliction)." — Lamentations, iii. i. 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 133 

advantages he may have on earth, he is not content if he 
is not also ranked highly in the judgment of man. This is 
the finest position in the world. Nothing can turn him from 
that desire, which is the most indelible quality of man's heart. 
And those who most despise men, and put them on a level 
with the brutes, yet wish to be admired and believed by men, 
and contradict themselves by their own feelings ; their nature, 
which is stronger than all, convincing them of the greatness 
of man more forcibly than reason convinces them of their 
baseness. 

405 
Contradiction. — Pride counterbalancing all miseries. Man 
either hides his miseries, or, if he disclose them, glories in 
knowing them. 

406 

Pride counterbalances and takes away all miseries. Here 
is a strange monster, and a very plain aberration. He is 
fallen from his place, and is anxiously seeking it. This 
is what all men do. Let us see who will have found it. 

407 

When malice has reason on its side, it becomes proud, 
and parades reason in all its splendour. When austerity or 
stern choice has not arrived at the true good, and must needs 
return to follow nature, it becomes proud by reason of this 
return. 

408 

Evil is easy, and has infinite forms ; good is almost unique. 
But a certain kind of evil is as difficult to find as what we 
call good; and often on this account such particular evil 
gets passed off as good. An extraordinary greatness of soul 
is needed in order to attain to it as well as to good. 

409 

The greatness of man. — The greatness of man is so evi- 
dent, that it is even proved by his wretchedness. For what 
in animals is nature we call in man wretchedness; by which 



134 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

we recognise that, his nature being now like that of animals^ 
he has fallen from a better nature which once was his. 

For who is unhappy at not being a king, except a deposed 
king? Was Paulus Emilius unhappy at being no longer 
consul? On the contrary, everybody thought him happy 
in having been consul, because the office could only be held 
for a time. But men thought Perseus so unhappy in being 
no longer king, because the condition of kingship implied 
his being always king, that they thought it strange that he 
endured life. Who is unhappy at having only one mouth? 
And who is not unhappy at having only one eye ? Probably 
no man ever ventured to mourn at not having three eyes. 
But any one is inconsolable at having none. 

410 

Perseus, King of Macedon. — Paulus Emilius reproached 
Perseus for not killing himself. 

4" 

Notwithstanding the sight of all our miseries, which press 
upon us and take us by the throat, we have an instinct which 
we cannot repress, and which lifts us up. 

412 

There is internal war in man between reason and the 

passions. 

If he had only reason without passions . . . 

If he had only passions without reason . . . 

But having both, he cannot be without strife, being un- 
able to be at peace with the one without being at war with 
the other. Thus he is always divided against, and opposed 
to himself. 

413 

This internal war of reason against the passions has made 
a division of those who would have peace into two sects. 
The first would renounce their passions, and become gods; 
the others would renounce reason, and become brute beasts. 
(Des Barreaux.) But neither can do so, and reason still 
remains, to condemn the vileness and unjustice of the 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 135 

passions, and to trouble the repose of those who abandon 
themselves to them; and the passions keep always alive in 
those who would renounce them. 

414 

Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would 
amount to another form of madness. 



415 

The nature of man may be viewed in two ways : the one 
according to its end, and then he is great and incomparable ; 
the other according to the multitude, just as we judge of 
the nature of the horse and the dog, popularly, by seeing its 
fleetness, et animum arcendi;^* and then man is abject and 
vile. These are the two ways which make us judge of him 
differently, and which occasion such disputes among phil- 
osophers. 

For one denies the assumption of the other. One says, 
" He is not born for this end, for all his actions are repug- 
nant to it." The other says, "He forsakes his end, when 
he does these base actions." 

416 

For Port Royal. Greatness and wretchedness, — Wretch- 
edness being deduced from greatness, and greatness from 
wretchedness, some have inferred man's wretchedness all 
the more because they have taken his greatness as a proof 
of it, and others have inferred his greatness with all the 
more force, because they have inferred it from his very 
wretchedness. All that the one party has been able to say 
in proof of his greatness has only served as an argument of 
his wretchedness to the others, because the greater our fall, 
the more wretched we are, and vice versa. The one party is 
brought back to the other in an endless circle, it being cer- 
tain that in proportion as men possess light they discover 
both the greatness and the wretchedness of man. In a 
word, man knows that he is wretched. He is therefore 
wretched, because he is so; but he is really great because 
he knows it. 

** ** And instinct of guarding." 



136 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

417 

This twofold nature of man is so evident that some have 
thought that we had two souls. A single subject seemed to 
them incapable of such sudden variations from unmeasured 
presumption to a dreadful dejection of heart. 

418 

It is dangerous to make man see too clearly his equality 
with the brutes without showing him his greatness. It is 
also dangerous to make him see his greatness too clearly, 
apart from his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave 
him in ignorance of both. But it is very advantageous to 
show him both. Man must not think that he is on a level 
either with the brutes or with the angels, nor must he be 
ignorant of both sides of his nature; but he must know 
both. 

419 

I will not allow man to depend upon himself, or upon 
another, to the end that being without a resting place and 
without repose . . . 

420 

If he exalt himself, I humble him; if he humble himself, 
I exalt him ; and I always contradict him, till he understands 
that he is an incomprehensible monster. 



421 

I blame equally those who choose to praise man, those 
who choose to blame him, and those who choose to amuse 
themselves; and I can only approve of those who seek with 
lamentation. 

422 

It is good to be tired and wearied by the vain search after 
the true good, that we may stretch out our arms to the 
Redeemer. 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 137 



423 

Contraries. ''After having shown the vileness and the 
greatness of man. — Let man now know his value. Let him 
love himself, for there is in him a nature capable of good; 
but let him not for this reason love the vileness which is 
in him. Let him despise himself, for this capacity is barren; 
but let him not therefore despise this natural capacity. Let 
him hate himself, let him love himself; he has within him 
the capacity of knowing the truth and of being happy, but 
he possesses no truth, either constant or satisfactory. 

I would then lead man to the desire of finding truth; to 
be free from passions, and ready to follow it where he may 
find it, knowing how much his knowledge is obscured by 
the passions. I would indeed that he should hate in himself 
the lust which determines his will by itself, so that it may 
not blind him in making his choice, and may not hinder him 
when he has chosen. 

424 

All these contradictions, which seem most to keep me 
from the knowledge of religion, have led me most quickly 
to the true one. 



SECTION VII 
Morality and Doctrine 

425 

^ECOND part, — That man without faith cannot know 
lA the true good, nor justice. 

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. 
Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this 
end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoid- 
ing it, is the same desire in both, attended with different 
views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. 
This is the motive of every action of every man, even 
of those who hang themselves. 

And yet after such a great number of years, no one with- 
out faith has reached the point to which all continually look. 
All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and common- 
ers, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, 
healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all 
conditions. 

A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should 
certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by 
our own efforts. But example teaches us little. No resem- 
blance is ever so perfect that there is not some slight differ- 
ence; and hence we expect that our hope will not be de- 
ceived on this occasion as before. And thus, while the 
present never satisfies us, experience dupes us, and from 
misfortune to misfortune leads us to death, their eternal 
crown. 

What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim 
to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of 
which there now remain to him only the mark and empty 
trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, 
seeking from things absent to help he does not obtain in 

138 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE m 

things present? But these are all inadequate, because the 
infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable 
object, that is to say, only by God Himself. 

He only is our true good, and since we have forsaken 
Him, it is a strange thing that there is nothing in nature 
which has not been serviceable in taking His place; the 
stars, the heavens, earth, the elements, plants, cabbages, 
leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, pestilence, war, 
famine, vices, adultery, incest. And since man has lost the 
true good, everything can appear equally good to him, even 
his own destruction, though so opposed to God, to reason, 
and to the whole course of nature. 

Some seek good in authority, others in scientific research, 
others in pleasure. Others, who are in fact nearer the truth, 
have considered it necessary that the universal good, which 
all men desire, should not consist in any of the particular 
things which can only be possessed by one man, and which, 
when shared, afflict their possessor more by the want of the 
part he has not, than they please him by the possession of 
what he has. They have learned that the true good should 
be such as all can possess at once, without diminution and 
without envy, and which no one can lose against his will. 
And their reason is that this desire being natural to man, 
since it is necessarily in all, and that it is impossible not to 
have it, they infer fronj it . . . 



426 

True nature being lost, everything becomes its own 
nature; as the true good being lost, everything becomes its 
own true good. 

427 

Man does not know in what rank to place himself. He has 
plainly gone astray, and fallen from his true place without 
being able to find it again. He seeks it anxiously and unsuc' 
cessfully everywhere in impenetrable darkness. 



140 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

428 

If it is a sign of weakness to prove God by nature, do 
not despise Scripture; if it is a sign of strength to have 
knovirn these contradictions, esteem Scripturei 

429 

The vileness of man in submitting himself to the brutes, 
and in even worshipping them. 

. 430 

For Port Royal. The beginning, after having explained 
the incomprehensibility, — The greatness and the wretched- 
ness of man are so evident that the true religion must neces- 
sarily teach us both that there is in man some great source 
of greatness, and a great source of wretchedness. It must 
then give us a reason for these astonishing contradictions. 

In order to make man happy, it must prove to him that 
there is a God; that we ought to love Him; that our true 
happiness is to be in Him, and our sole evil to be separated 
from Him; it must recognise that we are full of darkness 
which hinders us from knowing and loving Him; and that 
thus, as our duties compel us to love God, and our lusts turn 
us away from Him, we are full of unrighteousness. It must 
give us an explanation of our opposition to God and to our 
own good. It must teach us the remedies for these infirmi- 
ties, and the means of obtaining these remedies. Let us 
therefore examine all the religions of the world, and see if 
there be any other than the Christian which is sufficient for 
this purpose. 

Shall it be that of the philosophers, who put forward as 
the chief good, the good which is in ourselves? Is this the 
true good? Have they found the remedy for our ills? Is 
man's pride cured by placing him on an equality with God? 
Have those who have made us equal to the brutes, or the 
Mahomedans who have offered us earthly pleasures as the 
chief good even in eternity, produced the remedy for our 
lusts? What religion then will teach us to cure pride and 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 141 

lust? What religion will in fact teach us our good, our 
duties, the weakness which turns us from them, the cause of 
this weakness, the remedies which can cure it, and the 
means of obtaining these remedies? 

All other religions have not been able to do so. Let us 
see what the wisdom of God will do. 

" Expect neither truth,'* she says, " nor consolation from 
men. I am she who formed you, and who alone can teach 
you what you are. But you are now no longer in the state 
in which I formed you. I created man holy, innocent, per- 
fect. I filled him with light and intelligence. I communi- 
cated to him my glory and my wonders. The eye of man 
saw then the majesty of God. He was not then in the 
darkness which blinds him, nor subject to mortality and the 
woes which afflict him. But he has not been able to sustain 
so great glory without falling into pride. He wanted to 
make himself his own centre, and independent of my help. 
He withdrew himself from my rule; and, on his making 
himself equal to me by the desire of finding his happiness in 
himself, I abandoned him to himself. And setting in revolt 
the creatures that were subject to him, I made them his 
enemies ; so that man is now become like the brutes, and so 
estranged from me that there scarce remains to him a dim 
vision of his Author. So far has all his knowledge been 
extinguished or disturbed! The senses, independent of rea- 
son, and often the masters of reason, have led him into pur- 
suit of pleasure. All creatures either torment or tempt him. 
and domineer over him, either subduing him by their 
strength, or fascinating him by their charms, a tyranny more 
awful and more imperious. 

" Such is the state in which men now are. There re- 
mains to them some feeble instinct of the happiness of their 
former state; and they are plunged in the evils of their 
blindness and their lust, which have become their second 
nature. 

" From this principle which I disclose to you, you can 
recognize the cause of those contradictions which have 
astonished all men, and have divided them into parties hold- 
ing so different views. Observe now all the feelings of 
greatness and glory which the experience of so many woes 



142 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

cannot stifle, and see if the cause of them must not be in 
another nature." 

For Port Royal to-morrow (Prosopopoea). — ^**It is in vain 
O men, that you seek within yourselves the remedy for your 
ills. All your light can only reach the knowledge that not 
in yourselves will you find truth or good. The philosophers 
have promised you that, and have been unable to do it. They 
neither know what is your true good, nor what is your true 
state. How could they have given remedies for your ills, 
when they did not even know them ? Your chief maladies are 
pride, which takes you away from God, and lust, which 
binds you to earth; and they have done nothing else but 
cherish one or other of these diseases. If they gave you God 
as an end, it was only to administer to your pride; they 
made you think that you are by nature like Him, and con- 
formed to Him. And those who saw the absurdity of this 
claim put you on another precipice, by making you under- 
stand that your nature was like that of the brutes, and led 
you to seek your good in the lusts which are shared by the 
animals. This is not the way to cure you of your unright- 
eousness, which these wise men never knew. I alone can 
make you understand who you are. ..." 

Adam, Jesus Christ. 

If you are united to God, it is by grace, not by nature. 
If you are humbled, it is by penitence, not by nature. 

Thus this double capacity. . . . 

You are not in the state of your creation. 

As these two states are open, it is impossible for you not 
to recognise them. Follow your own feelings, observe your- 
selves, and see if you do not find the lively characteristics 
of these two natures. Could so many contradictions be 
found in a simple subject? 

— Incomprehensible. — Not all that is incomprehensible 
ceases to exist. Infinite number. An infinite space equal to 
a finite. 

— ^Incredible that God should unite Himself to us. — This 
consideration is drawn only from the sight of our vileness. 
But if you are quite sincere over it, follow it as far as I 
have done, and recognise that we are indeed so vile that we 
are incapable in ourselves of knowing if His mercy can« 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 143 

not make us capable of Him. For I would know how this 
animal, who knows himself to be so weak, has the right to 
measure the mercy of God, and set limits to it, suggested by 
his own fancy. He has so little knowledge of what God is, 
that he does not know what he himself is, and, completely 
disturbed at the sight of his own state, dares to say that God 
cannot make him capable of communion with Him. 

But I would ask him if God demands anything else from 
him than the knowledge and love of Him, and why, since 
his nature is capable of love and knowledge, he believes 
that God cannot make Himself known and loved by him. 
Doubtless he knows at least that he exists, and that he loves 
something. Therefore, if he sees anything in the darknesf 
wherein he is, and if he finds some object of his love among 
the things on earth, why, if God impart to him some ray of 
His essence, will he not be capable of knowing and of loving 
Him in the manner in which it shall please Him to com- 
municate Himself to us? There must then be certainly an 
intolerable presumption in these sort of arguments, although 
they seem founded on an apparent humility, which is neither 
sincere nor reasonable, if it does not make us admit that, 
not knowing of ourselves what we are, we can only learn it 
from God. 

" I do not mean that you should submit your belief to me 
without reason, and I do not aspire to overcome you by 
tyranny. In fact I do not claim to give you a reason for 
everything. And to reconcile these contradictions, I intend 
to make you see clearly, by convincing proofs, those divine 
signs in me, which may convince you of what I am, and may 
gain authority for me by wonders and proofs which you 
cannot reject; so that you may then believe without . . . 
the things which I teach you, since you will find no other 
ground for rejecting them, except that you cannot know of 
yourselves if they are true or not. 

" God has willed to redeem men, and to open salvation 
to those who seek it. But men render themselves so un- 
worthy of it, that it is right that God should refuse to some, 
because of their obduracy, what He grants to others from 
a compassion which is not due to them. H He had willed 
to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, He could 



144 PASCAL*S THOUGHTS 

have done so by revealing Himself so manifestly to them 
that they could not have doubted of the truth of His essence ; 
as it v^^ill appear at the last day, vi^ith such thunders and 
such a convulsion of nature, that the dead v^ill rise again, 
and the blindest will see Him. 

*' It is not in this manner that He has willed to appear in 
His advent of mercy, because, as so many make themselves 
unworthy of His mercy, He has willed to leave them in the 
loss of the good which they do not want. It was not then 
right that He should appear in a manner manifestly divine, 
and completely capable of convincing all men; but it was 
also not right that He should come in so hidden a manner 
that He could not be known by those who should sincerely 
seek Him. He has willed to make Himself quite recogni- 
sable by those; and thus, willing to appear openly to those 
who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from 
those who flee from Him with all their heart, He so regu- 
lates the knowledge of Himself that He has given signs of 
Himself, visible to those who seek Him, and not to those 
who seek Him not. There is enough light for those who 
only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have 
a contrary disposition." 

431 

No other religion has recognised that man is the most 
excellent creature. Some, which have quite recognised the 
reality of his excellence, have considered as mean and un- 
grateful the low opinions which men naturally have of 
themselves; and others, which have thoroughly recognised 
how real is this vileness, have treated with proud ridicule 
those feelings of greatness, which are equally natural to 
man. 

" Lift your eyes to God," say the first ; " see Him whom 
you resemble, and who has created you to worship Him. 
You can make yourselves like unto Him; wisdom will make 
you equal to Him, if you will follow it." " Raise your heads, 
free men," says Epictetus. And others say, " Bend your 
eyes to the earth, wretched worm that you are, and con- 
sider the brutes whose companion you are." 

What then will man become? Will he be equal to God 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE US 

or the brutes ? What a frightful difference ! What then 
shall we be? Who does not see from all this that man has 
gone astray, that he has fallen from his place, that he 
anxiously seeks it, that he cannot find it again? And who 
shall then direct him to it? The greatest men have failed. 

432 

Scepticism is true; for, after all, men before Jesus Christ 
did not know where they were, nor whether they were great 
or small. And those who have said the one or the other, 
knew nothing about it, and guessed without reason and by 
chance. They also erred always in excluding the one or the 
other. 

Quod ergo ignorantes qucBritis, religio annuntiat vobis} 

433 
'^After having understood the ivhole nature of man. — That 
a religion may be true, it must have knowledge of our 
nature. It ought to know Its greatness and littleness, and 
the reason of both. What religion but the Christian has 
known this? 

434 
The chief arguments of the sceptics — I pass over the 
lesser ones — are that we have no certainty of the truth of 
these principles apart from faith and revelation, except in 
so far as we naturally perceive them in ourselves. Now this 
natural intuition is not a convincing proof of their truth; 
since, having no certainty, apart from faith, whether man 
was created by a good God, or by a wicked demon, or by 
chance, it is doubtful whether these principles given to us 
are true, or false, or uncertain, according to our origin. 
Again, no person is certain, apart from faith, whether he 
is awake or sleeps, seeing that during sleep we believe as 
firmly as we do that we are awake; we believe that we see 
space, figure, and motion; we are aware of the passage of 
time, we measure it; and in fact we act as if we were awake. 
So that half of our life being passed in sleep, we have on 

1 " What therefore ye ignorantly seek, religion proclaims to you."— 
Cf* Acts, xvii. 23. 



146 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

our own admission no idea of truth, whatever we may imag- 
ine. As all our intuitions are then illusions, who knows 
whether the other half of our life, in which we think we 
are awake, is not another sleep a little different from the 
former, from which we awake when we suppose ourselves 
asleep? 

[And who doubts that, if we dreamt in company, and the 
dreams chanced to agree, which is common enough, and if 
we were always alone when awake, we should believe that 
matters were reversed? In short, as we often dream that we 
dream, heaping dream upon dream, may it not be that this 
half of our life, wherein v/e think ourselves awake, is itself 
only a dream on which the others are grafted, from which 
we wake at death, during which we have as few principles of 
truth and good as during natural sleep, these different 
thoughts which disturb us being perhaps only illusions like 
the flight of time and the vain fancies of our dreams?] 

These are the chief arguments on one side and the other, 

I omit minor ones, such as the sceptical talk against the 
impressions of custom, education, manners, country, and the 
like. Though these influence the majority of common folk, 
who dogmatise only on shallow foundations, they are upset 
by the least breath of the sceptics. We have only to see 
their books if we are not sufficiently convinced of this, and 
we shall very quickly become so, perhaps too much. 

I notice the only strong point of the dogmatists, namely, 
that, speaking in good faith and sincerely, we cannot doubt 
natural principles. Against this the sceptics set up in one 
word the uncertainty of our origin, which includes that of 
our nature. The dogmatists have been trying to answer this 
objection ever since the world began. 

So there is open war among men, in which each must 
take a part, and side either with dogmatism or scepticism. 
For he who thinks to remain neutral is above all a sceptic. 
This neutrality is the essence of the sect; he who is not 
against them is essentially for them. [In this appears their 
advantage.] They are not for themselves ; they are neutral, 
indifferent, in suspense as to all things, even themselves 
being no exception. 

What then shall man do in this state? Shall he doubt 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 147 

everything? Shall he doubt whether he is awake, whether 
he is being pinched, or whether he is being burned? Shall 
he doubt whether he doubts? Shall he doubt whether he 
exists? We cannot go so far as that; and I lay it down as 
a fact there never has been a real complete sceptic. Nature 
sustains our feeble reason, and prevents it raving to this 
extent. 

Shall he then say, on the contrary, that he certainly pos- 
sesses truth — he who, when pressed ever so little, can show 
no title to it, and is forced to let go his hold? 

What a chimera then is man ! What a novelty ! What 
a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a 
prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth; 
depositary of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the 
pride and refuse of the universe ! 

Who will unravel this tangle? Nature confutes the scep- 
tics, and reason confutes the dogmatists. What then 
will you become, O men ! who try to find out by your natu- 
ral reason what is your true condition? You cannot avoid 
one of these sects, nor adhere to one of them. 

Know then, proud man, what a paradox you are to your- 
self. Humble yourself, weak reason; be silent, foolish 
nature; learn that man infinitely transcends man, and learn 
from your Master your true condition, of which you are 
ignorant. Hear God. 

For in fact, if man had never been corrupt, he would 
enjoy in his innocence both truth and happiness with as- 
surance; and if man had always been corrupt, he would 
have no idea of truth or bliss. But, wretched as we are, and 
more so than if there were no greatness in our condition, 
we have an idea of happiness, and cannot reach it. We 
perceive an image of truth, and possess only a lie. Incapable 
of absolute ignorance and of certain knowledge, we have 
thus been manifestly in a degree of perfection from which 
we have unhappily fallen. 

It is, however, an astonishing thing that the mystery 
furthest removed from our knowledge, namely, that of the 
transmission of sin, should be a fact without which we can 
have no knowledge of ourselves. For it is beyond doubt 
that there is nothing which more shocks our reason than to 



248 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

say that the sin of the first man has rendered guilty those, 
who, being so removed from this source, seem incapable 
of participation in it. This transmission does not only seem 
to us impossible, it seems also very unjust. For what is 
more contrary to the rules of our miserable justice than to 
damn eternally an infant incapable of will, for a sin wherein 
he seems to have so little a share, that it was committed 
six thousand years before he was in existence? Certainly 
nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine; and yet, 
without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we 
are incomprehensible to ourselves. The knot of our condi- 
tion takes its twists and turns in this abyss, so that man 
is more inconceivable without this mystery than this mystery 
is inconceivable to man. 

[Whence it seems that God, willing to render the diffi- 
culty of our existence unintelligible to ourselves, has con- 
cealed the knot so high, or, better speaking, so low, that 
we are quite incapable of reaching it; so that it is not by 
the proud exertions of our reason, but by the simple sub- 
mission of reason, that we can truly know ourselves. 

These foundations, solidly established on the inviolable 
authority of religion, make us know that there are two 
truths of faith equally certain: the one, that man, in the 
state of creation, or in that of grace, is raised above all 
nature, made like unto God and sharing in His divinity; 
the other, that in the state of corruption and sin, he is fallen 
from this state and made like unto the beasts. 

These two propositions are equally sound and certain. 
Scripture manifestly declares this to us, when it says in 
some places: Delicice mece esse cum filiis hominiim.^ Eifiin- 
dum spiritum meum super omnem carnem* Dii estis* &c. ; 
and in other places, Omnis caro fcenum^ Homo assimilafus 
est jumentis insipientihus, ef similis factus est illis.^ Dixi 
in corde meo de filiis hominum. Eccles. iii. 

Whence it clearly seems that man by grace is made like 
unto God, and a partaker in His divinity, and that without 
grace he is like unto the brute beasts.] 

^Proverbs, viii. 31. ^ igaiah, xliv. 3; Joel, ii. 2^. * Psalms, Ixxxii. 6. 
B Isaiah, xl. 6. « Psalms, xlix. 20. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 149 

435 

Without this divine knowledge what could men do but 
either become elated by the inner feeling of their past great- 
ness which still remains to them, or become despondent at 
the sight of their present weakness? For, not seeing the 
whole truth, they could not attain to perfect virtue. Some 
considering nature as incorrupt, others as incurable, they 
could not escape either pride or sloth, the two sources of 
all vice; since they cannot but either abandon themselves 
to it through cowardice, or escape it by pride. For if they 
knew the excellence of man, they were ignorant of his cor- 
ruption ; so that they easily avoided sloth, but fell into pride. 
And if they recognised the infirmity of nature, they were 
ignorant of its dignity; so that they could easily avoid 
vanity, but it was to fall into despair. Thence arise the 
different schools of the Stoics and Epicureans, the Dogma- 
tists, Academicians, &c. 

The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these 
two vices, not by expelling the one through means of the 
other according to the wisdom of the world, but by ex- 
pelling both according to the simplicity of the Gospel. For 
it teaches the righteous that it raises them even to a parti- 
cipation in divinity itself; that in this lofty state they still 
carry the source of all corruption, which renders them 
during all their life subject to error, misery, death, and sin; 
and it proclaims to the most ungodly that they are capable 
of the grace of their Redeemer. So making those tremble 
whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, 
religion so justly tempers fear with hope through that 
double capacity of grace and of sin, common to all, that it 
humbles infinitely more than reason alone can do, but 
without despair; and it exalts infinitely more than natural 
pride, but without inflating: thus making It evident that 
alone being exempt from error and vice, it alone fulfils 
the duty of instructing and correcting men. 

Who then can refuse to believe and adore this heavenly 
light? For is it not clearer than day that we perceive 
within ourselves ineffaceable marks of excellence? And is 
it not equally true that we experience every hour the re- 



ISO PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

suits of our deplorable condition? What does this chaos 
and monstrous confusion proclaim to us but the truth of 
these two states, with a voice so powerful that it is impossi- 
ble to resist it? 

436 

Weakness. — Every pursuit of men is to get wealth; and 
they cannot have a title to show that they possess it justly, 
for they have only that of human caprice; nor have they 
strength to hold it securely. It is the same with knowledge, 
for disease takes it away. We are incapable both of truth 
and goodness. 

437 

We desire truth, and find within ourselves only uncer- 
tainty. 

We seek happiness, and find only misery and death. 

We cannot but desire truth and happiness, and are in- 
capable of certainty or happiness. This desire is left to us, 
partly to punish us, partly to make us perceive wherefrom 
we are fallen. 

43S 

If man is not made for God, why is he only happy in 
God? If man is made for God, why is he so opposed to 
God? 

439 

Nature corrupted.— Ulzn does not act by reason, which 
constitutes his being. 

440 

The corruption of reason is shown by the existence of 
so many different and extravagant customs. It was neces- 
sary that truth should come, in order that man should no 
longer dwell within himself. 

441 

For myself, I confess that so soon as the Christian religion 
reveals the principle that human nature is corrupt and 
fallen from God, that opens my eyes to see everywhere the 
mark of this truth: for nature is such that she testifies 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE t$t 

everywhere, both within man and without him, to a lost 
God and a corrupt nature. 

442 

Man's true nature, his true good, true virtue, and true 
religion, are things of which the knowledge is inseparable. 

443 

Greatness^ wretchedness. — The more light we have, the 
more greatness and the more baseness we discover in man. 
Ordinary men — those who are more educated: philosophers, 
they astonish ordinary men — Christians, they astonish phil- 
osophers. 

Who will then be surprised to see that religion only makes 
us know profoundly what we already know in proportion 
to our light? 

444 

This religion taught to her children what men have only 
been able to discover by their greatest knowledge. 

445 
Original sin is foolishness to men, but it is admitted to 
be such. You must not then reproach me for the want of 
reason in this doctrine, since I admit it to be without reason. 
But this foolishness is wiser than all the wisdom of men, 
sapientius est hominibus. For without this, what can we say 
that man is? His whole state depends on this imperceptible 
point. And how should it be perceived by his reason, since 
it is a thing against reason, and since reason, far from 
finding it out by her own ways, is averse to it when it is 
presented to her? 

446 

Of original sin. Ample tradition of original sin according 
to the Jews. 

On the word in Genesis, viii. 21. The imagination of 
man's heart is evil from his youth. 

R. Moses Haddarschan: This evil leaven is placed in 
man from the time that he is formed. 

Massechet Succa: This evil leaven has seven names in 



152 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Scripture. It is called evil, the foreskin, un cleanness, an 
enemy, a scandal, a heart of stone, the north wind; all this 
signifies the malignity which is concealed and impressed in 
the heart of man. 

Midrasch Tillim says the same thing, and that God will 
deliver the good nature of man from the evil. 

This malignity is renewed every day against man, as it is 
written, Psalm xxxvii. 32 : " The wicked watcheth the 
righteous, and seeketh to slay him ; " but God will not aban- 
don him. This malignity tries the heart of man in this life, 
and will accuse him in the other. All this is found in the 
Talmud. 

Midrasch Tillim on Psalm iv. 4 : " Stand in awe and sin 
not." Stand in awe and be afraid of your lust, and it will 
not lead you into sin. And on Psalm xxxvi. i : " The 
wicked has said within his own heart. Let not the fear of 
God be before me." That is to say that the malignity nat- 
ural to man has said that to the wicked. 

Midrasch el Kohelet: "Better is a poor and wise child 
than an old and foolish king who cannot foresee the future." 
The child is virtue, and the king is the malignity of man. 
It IS called king because all the members obey it, and old 
because it is in the human heart from infancy to old age, 
and foolish because it leads man in the way of [perdition']^ 
which he does not foresee. The same thing is in Midrasch 
Tillim, 

Bereschist Rahha on Psalm xxxv. 10: "Lord, all my 
bones shall bless Thee, which deliverest the poor from the 
tyrant." And is there a greater tyrant than the evil leaven ? 
And on Proverbs xxv. 21: "If thine enemy be hungry, give 
him bread to eat." That is to say, if the evil leaven hunger, 
give him the bread of wisdom of which it is spoken in 
Proverbs ix., and if he be thirsty, give him the water of 
which it is spoken in Isaiah Iv. 

Midrasch Tillim says the same thing, and that Scripture 
in that passage, speaking of the enemy, means the evil 
leaven; and that, in giving him that bread and that water, 
we heap coals of fire on his head. 

Midrasch el Kohelet on Ecclesiastes ix. 14: "A great 
king besieged a little city." This great king is the evil 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 153 

leaven; the great bulwarks built against it are temptations; 
and there has been found a poor wise man who has delivered 
it — that is to say, virtue. 

And on Psalm xli. i : " Blessed is he that considereth 
the poor." 

And on Psalm Ixxviii. 39 : " The spirit passeth away, 
and Cometh not again"; whence some have erroneously 
argued against the immortality of the soul. But the sense 
is that this spirit is the evil leaven, which accompanies 
man till death, and will not return at the resurrection. 

And on Psalm ciii. the same thing. 

And on Psalm xvi. 

Principles of Rabbinism: two Messiahs. 

447 
Will it be said that, as men have declared that righteous- 
ness has departed the earth, they therefore knew of orig- 
inal sin? — Nemo ante obitum heatus esf — that is to say, 
they knew death to be the beginning of eternal and essential 
happiness ? 

448 

[Miton'] sees well that nature is corrupt, and that men 
are averse to virtue ; but he does not know why they cannot 
fly higher. 

449 

Order. — After corruption to say: "It is right that all 
those who are in that state should know it, both those who 
are content with it, and those who are not content with 
it; but it is not right that all should see Redemption." 

'450 

If we do not know ourselves to be full of pride, ambition, 
lust, weakness, misery, and injustice, we are indeed blind. 
And if, knowing this, we do not desire deliverance, what 
can we say of a man. . . . ? 

What, then, can we have but esteem for a religion which 
knows so well the defects of man, and desire for the truth 
of a religion which promises remedies so desirable? 

' " No one is happy before he is dead." 



154 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



45« 

All men naturally hate one another. They employ lust 
as far as possible in the service of the public weal. But 
this is only a pretence and a false image of love; for at 
bottom it is only hate. 

452 
To pity the unfortunate is not contrary to lust. On the 
contrary, we can quite well give such evidence of friendship, 
and acquire the reputation of kindly feeling, without giving 
anything. 

453 

From lust men have found and extracted excellent rules 
of policy, morality, and justice; but in reality this vile root 
of man, this Hgmentum malum* is only covered, it is not 
taken away. 

454 
Injustice. — They have not found any other means of sat- 
isfying lust without doing injury to others. 

455 

Self is hateful. You, Miton, conceal it; you do not for 
that reason destroy it; you are, then, always hateful. 

— No; for in acting as we do to oblige everybody, we 
give no more occasion for hatred of us. — That is true, if 
we only hated in self the vexation which comes to us from 
it. But if I hate it because it is unjust, and because it 
makes itself the centre of everything, I shall always hate it. 

In a word, the Self has two qualities: it is unjust in itself 
since it makes itself the centre of everything; it is incon- 
venient to others since it would enslave them; for each self 
is the enemy, and would like to be the tyrant of all others. 
You take away its inconvenience, but not its injustice, and 
so you do not render it lovable to those who hate injustice; 
you render it lovable only to the unjust, who do not any 
longer find in it an enemy. And thus you remain unjust, 
and can please only the unjust. 

8*«Evil creation.** 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 155 

456 

It is a perverted judgment that makes every one place 
himself above the rest of the world, and prefer his own 
good, and the continuance of his own good fortune and life, 
to that of the rest of the world. 



457 

Each one is all in all to himself; for he being dead, all 
is dead to him. Hence it comes that each believes himself 
to be all in all to everybody. We must not judge of nature 
by ourselves, but by it, 

458 

"All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, or the 
lust of the eyes, or the pride of life; libido sentiendi, libido 
sciendi, libido dominandi" Wretched is the cursed land 
which these three rivers of fire enflame rather than water ! 
Happy they who, on these rivers, are not overwhelmed 
nor carried away, but are immovably fixed, not standing 
but seated on a low and secure base, whence they do not 
rise before the light, but, having rested in peace, stretch 
out their hands to Him, who must lift them up, and make 
them stand upright and firm in the porches of the holy 
Jerusalem! There pride can no longer assail them nor cast 
them down; and yet they weep, not to see all those perish- 
able things swept away by the torrents, but at the remem- 
brance of their loved country, the heavenly Jerusalem, which 
they remember without ceasing during their prolonged exile. 



459 

The rivers of Babylon rush and fall and sweep away. 

O holy Sion, where all is firm and nothing falls ! 

We must sit upon the waters, not under them or in them, 
but on them; and not standing but seated; being seated to 
be humble, and being above them to be secure. But we 
shall stand in the porches of Jerusalem. 



156 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Let us see if this pleasure is stable or transitory; if it 
pass away, it is a river of Babylon. 

460 

The lust of the Hesh, the lust of the eyes, pride, &c. — 
There are three orders of things: the flesh, the spirit, 
and the will. The carnal are the rich and kings; they have 
the body as their object. Inquirers and scientists; they 
have the mind as their object. The wise; they have right- 
eousness as their object. 

God must reign over all, and all men must be brought 
back to Him. In things of the flesh lust reigns specially; 
in intellectual matters, inquiry specially; in wisdom, pride 
specially. Not that a man cannot boast of wealth or knowl- 
edge, but it is not the place for pride; for in granting to 
a man that he is learned, it is easy to convince him that he 
is wrong to be proud. The proper place for pride is in 
wisdom, for it cannot be granted to a man that he has made 
himself wise, and that he is wrong to be proud; for that is 
right. Now God alone gives wisdom, and that is why Qui 
gloriatur, in Domino glorietiir^ 

461 

The three lusts have made three sects; and the phi- 
losophers have done no other thing than follow one of the 
three lusts. 

462 

Search for the true good. — Ordinary men place the good 
in fortune and external goods, or at least in amusement. 
Philosophers have shown the vanity of all this, and have 
placed it where they could. 

463 

[Against the philosophers who believe in God without 
Jesus Christ.^ 

Philosophers. — They believe that God alone is worthy 
to be loved and admired ; and they have desired to be loved 

» I Cor., i. 31. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 157 

and admired of men, and do not know their own corrup- 
tion. If they feel full of feelings of love and adoration, 
and find therein their chief delight, very well, let them 
think themselves good. But if they find themselves averse 
to Him, if they have no inclination but the desire to estab- 
lish themselves in the esteem of men, and if their whole 
perfection consists only in making men — but without con- 
straint — find their happiness in loving them, I declare that 
this perfection is horrible. What ! they have known God, 
and have not desired solely that men should love Him, but 
that men should stop short at them ! They have wanted 
to be the object of the voluntary delight of men. 

464 

Philosophers. — We are full of things which take us out 
of ourselves. 

Our instinct makes us feel that we must seek our happi- 
ness outside ourselves. Our passions impel us outside, even 
when no objects present themselves to excite them. Ex- 
ternal objects tempt us of themselves, and call to us, even 
when we are not thinking of them. And thus philosophers 
have said in vain, " Retire within yourselves, you will find 
your good there." We do not believe them, and those who 
believe them are the most empty and the most foolish. 

465 

The Stoics say, " Retire within yourselves ; it is there 
you will find your rest." And that is not true. 

Others say, "Go out of yourselves; seek happiness in 
amusement." And this is not true. Illness comes. 

Happiness is neither without us nor within us. It is in 
God, both without us and within us. 



466 

Had Epictetus seen the way perfectly, he would have 
said to men, " You follow a wrong road " ; he shows that 
there is another, but he does not lead to it. It is the way of 



158 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

willing what God wills. Jesus Christ alone leads to it: 
Via, Veritas}'* 
The vices of Zeno himself. 

467 

The reason of effects, — Epictetus. Those who say, " You 
have a headache ; " this is not the same thing. We are 
assured of health, and not of justice; and in fact his own 
was nonsense. 

And yet he believed it demonstrable, when he said, " It is 
either in our power or it is not." But he did not perceive 
that it is not in our power to regulate the heart, and he was 
wrong to infer this from the fact that there were some 
Christians. 

468 

No other religion has proposed to men to hate them- 
selves. No other religion then can please those who hate 
themselves, and who seek a Being truly lovable. And these, 
if they had never heard of the religion of a God humihated, 
would embrace it at once. 

469 

I feel that I might not have been; for the Ego consists 
in my thoughts. Therefore I, who think, would not have 
been, if my mother had been killed before I had life. T am 
not then a necessary being. In the same way I am not 
eternal or infinite; but I see plainly that there exists in 
nature a necessary Being, eternal and infinite. 

470 

" Had I seen a miracle," say men, " I should become 
converted." How can they be sure they would do a thing 
of the nature of which they are ignorant? They imagine 
that this conversion consists in a worship of God, which 
IS like commerce, and in a communion such as they picture 
to themselves. True religion consists in annihilating self 
before that Universal Being, whom we have so often pro- 
voked, and who can justly destroy us at any time; in recog- 
^•John xiv. 6. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 159 

nising that we can do nothing without Him, and have de- 
served nothing from Him but His displeasure. It consists 
in knowing that there is an unconquerable opposition be- 
tween us and God, and that without a mediator there can 
be no communion with Him. 



471 

It is unjust that men should attach themselves to me, even 
though they do it with pleasure and voluntarily. I should 
deceive those in whom I had created this desire; for I am 
not the end of any, and I have not the wherewithal to sat- 
isfy them. Am I not about to die? And thus the object of 
their attachment will die. Therefore, as I would be blam- 
able in causing a falsehood to be believed, though I should 
employ gentle persuasion, though it should be believed with 
pleasure, and though it should give me pleasure; even so 
I am blamable in making myself loved, and if I attract 
persons to attach themselves to me. I ought to warn those 
who are ready to consent to a lie, that they ought not to be- 
lieve it, whatever advantage comes to me from it; and 
likewise that they ought not to attach themselves to me; 
for they ought to spend their life and their care in pleasing 
God, or in seeking Him. 

472 

Self-will will never be satisfied, though it should have 
command of all it would; but we are satisfied from the 
moment we renounce it. Without it we cannot be discon- 
tented; with it we cannot be content. 

473 
Let us imagine a body full of thinking members. 

474 
Members. To commence with that. — To regulate the love 
which we owe to ourselves, we must imagine a body full 
of thinking members, for we are members of the whole, and 
must see how each member should love itself, &c. . . « 



160 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



475 
If the feet and the hands had a will of their own, thej 
could only be in their order in submitting this particular 
will to the primary will which governs the whole body. 
Apart from that, they are in disorder and mischief; but in 
willing only the good of the body, they accomplish their 
own good. 

476 

We must love God only and hate self only. 

If the foot had always been ignorant that it belonged to 
the body, and that there was a body on which it depended, 
if it had only had the knowledge and the love of self, and 
if it came to know that it belonged to a body on which it 
depended, what regret, what shame for its past life, for 
having been useless to the body which inspired its life, 
which would have annihilated it if it had rejected it and 
separated it from itself, as it kept itself apart from the 
body ! What prayers for its preservation in it ! And with 
what submission would it allow itself to be governed by the 
will which rules the body, even to consenting, if necessary, 
to be cut off, or it would lose its character as member ! 
For every member must be quite willing to perish for the 
body, for which alone the whole is. 

477 

It is false that we are worthy of the love of others; it is 
unfair that we should desire it. If we were born reasonable 
and impartial, knowing ourselves and others, we should not 
give this bias to our will. However, we are born with it; 
we are therefore born unjust, for all tends to self. This 
is contrary to all order. We must consider the general 
good; and the propensity to self is the beginning of all 
disorder, in war, in politics, in economy, and in the particu- 
lar body of man. The will is therefore depraved. 

If the members of natural and civil communities tend 
towards the weal of the body, the communities themselves 
ought to look to another more general body of which 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 161 

they are members. We ought therefore to look to the whole. 
We are therefore born unjust and depraved. 



478 

When we want to think of God, is there nothing which 
turns us away, and tempts us to think of something else? 
All this is bad, and is born in us. 

479 

If there is a God, we must love Him only, and not the 
creatures of a day. The reasoning of the ungodly in the 
Book of Wisdom is only based upon the non-existence of 
God. " On that supposition," say they, " let us take delight 
in the creatures." That is the worst that can happen. But 
if there were a God to love, they would not have come to 
this conclusion, but to quite the contrary. And this is the 
conclusion of the wise: "There is a God, let us therefore 
not take delight in the creatures." 

Therefore all that incites us to attach ourselves to the 
creatures is bad; since it prevents us from serving God if 
we know Him, or from seeking Him if we know Him not. 
Now we are full of lust. Therefore we are full of evil; 
therefore we ought to hate ourselves and all that excites 
us to attach ourselves to any other object than God only. 

480 

To make the members happy, they must have one will, 
and submit it to the body. 



The examples of the noble deaths of the Lacedaemonians 
and others scarce touch us. For what good is it to us? 
But the example of the death of the martyrs touches us; 
for they are " our members." We have a common tie with 
them. Their resolution can form ours, not only by exam- 
ple, but because it has perhaps deserved ours. There is 
nothing of this in the examples of the heathen. We have 
no tie with them; as we do not become rich by seeing a 

HC XLVIII (p) 



162 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

stranger who is so, but in fact by seeing a father or a 
husband who is so 

482 

Morality. — God having made the heavens and the earth, 
which do not feel the happiness of their being, He has 
willed to make beings who should know it, and who should 
compose a body of thinking members. For our members 
do not feel the happiness of their union, of their wonderful 
intelligence, of the care which nature has taken to infuse 
into them minds, and to make them grow and endure. How 
happy they would be if they saw and felt it ! But for this 
they would need to have intelligence to know it, and good- 
will to consent to that of the universal soul. But if, having 
received intelligence, they employed it to retain nourishment 
for themselves without allowing it to pass to the other 
members, they would be not only unjust, but also miserable, 
and would hate rather than love themselves; their blessed- 
ness, as well as their duty, consisting in their consent to 
the guidance of the whole soul to which they belong, which 
loves them better than they love themselves. 

483 

To be a member is to have neither life, being, nor move- 
ment, except through the spirit of the body, and for the 
body. 

The separate member, seeing no longer the body to which 
it belongs, has only a perishing and dying existence. Yet it 
believes it is a whole, and seeing not the body on which it 
depends, it believes it depends only on self, and desires to 
make itself both centre and body. But not having in itself 
a principle of life, it only goes astray, and is astonished 
in the uncertainty of its being; perceiving in fact that it is 
not a body, and still not seeing that it is a member of a 
body. In short, when it comes to know itself, it has re- 
turned as it were to its own home, and loves itself only 
for the body. It deplores its past wanderings. 

It cannot by its nature love any other thing, except for 
itself and to subject it to self, because each thing loves itself 
more than all. But in loving the body, it loves itself, be- 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 163 

cause it only exists in it, by it, and for it. Qm adhceret 
Deo units spiritus est.^^ 

The body loves the hand; and the hand, if it had a will, 
should love itself in the same way as it is loved by the soul. 
All love which goes beyond this is unfair. 

AdhcBrens Deo iinus spiritus est. We love ourselves, be- 
cause we are members of Jesus Christ. We love Jesus 
Christ, because He is the body of which we are members. 
All is one, one is in the other, like the Three Persons. 

484 

Two laws suffice to rule the whole Christian Republic 
better than all the laws of statecraft. 

The true and only virtue then is to hate self (for we are 
hateful on account of lust), and to seek a truly lovable 
being to love. But as we cannot love what is outside our- 
selves, we must love a being who is in us, and is not our- 
selves; and that is true of each and all men. Now only 
the Universal Being is such. The kingdom of God is within 
us; the universal good is within us, is ourselves — and not 
ourselves. 

486 

The dignity of man in his innocence consisted in using 
and having dominion over the creatures, but now in separat- 
ing himself from them, and subjecting himself to them. 

487 

Every religion is false, which as to its faith does not 
worship one God as the origin of everything, and which as 
to its morality does not love one only God as the object of 
everything. 

488 

. . . But it is impossible that God should ever be the end, 
if He is not the beginning. We lift our eyes on high, 

^ I Cor., vi. 17. 



161 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

but lean upon the sand; and the earth will dissolve, and 
we shall fall whilst looking at the heavens. 

489 

If there is one sole source of everything, there is one 
sole end of everything; everything through Him, everything 
for Him. The true religion then must teach us to worship 
Him only, and to love Him only. But as we find ourselves 
unable to worship what we know not, and to love any other 
object but ourselves, the religion which instructs us in these 
duties must instruct us also of this inability, and teach us 
also the remedies for it. It teaches us that by one man all 
was lost, and the bond broken between God and us, and 
that by one man the bond is renewed. 

We are born so averse to this love of God, and it is so 
necessary that we must be born guilty, or God would be 
unjust. 

490 

Men, not being accustomed to form merit, but only to 
recompense it where they find it formed, judge of God by 
themselves. 

491 

The true religion must have as a characteristic the obliga- 
tion to love God. This is very just, and yet no other relig- 
ion has commanded this; ours has done so. It must also 
be aware of human lust and weakness; ours is so. It must 
have adduced remedies for this; one is prayer. No other 
religion has asked of God to love and follow Him. 

492 

He who hates not in himself his self-love, and that instinct 
which leads him to make himself God, is indeed blinded. 
Who does not see that there is nothing so opposed to justice 
and truth? For it is false that we deserve this, and it is 
unfair and impossible to attain it, since all demand the 
same thing. It is then a manifest injustice which is innate 
in us, of which we cannot get rid, and of which we must 
get rid. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 165 

Yet no religion has indicated that this was a sin; or that 
we were born in it; or that we were obliged to resist it; 
or has thought of giving us remedies for it. 



493 

The true religion teaches our duties; our weaknesses, 
pride, and lust; and the remedies, humility and mortifica- 
tion. 

494 
The true religion must teach greatness and misery; must 
lead to the esteem and contempt of self, to love and to 
hate. 

495 

If it is ^n extraordinary blindness to live without investi- 
gating what we are, it i'' a terrible one to live an evil life, 
while believing in God. 

496 

Experience makes us see an enormous difference between 
piety and goodness. 

497 

Against those who, trusting to the mercy of God, live 
heedlessly, without doing good works, — As the two sources 
of our sins are pride and sloth, God has revealed to us two 
of His attributes to cure them, mercy and justice. The 
property of justice is to humble pride, however holy may 
be our works, et non intres in judicium, &c. ;" and the 
property of mercy is to combat sloth by exhorting to good 
works, according to that passage : " The goodness of God 
leadeth to repentance," and that other of the Ninevites: 
" Let us do penance to see if peradventure He will pity us." 
And thus mercy is so far from authorising slackness, that 
it is on the contrary the quality which formally attacks it; 
so that instead of saying, "If there were no mercy in God 
we should have to make every kind of effort after virtue," 
we must say, on the contrary, that it is because there is 
mercy in God, that we must make every kind of effort. 

12 Psalms, clxiii. 2. 



166 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

498 

It is true there is difficulty in entering into godliness. But 
this difficulty does not arise from the religion which begins 
in us, but from the irreligion which is still there. If our 
senses were not opposed to penitence, and if our corruption 
were not opposed to the purity of God, there would be nothing 
in this painful to us. We suffer only in proportion as the 
vice which is natural to us resists supernatural grace. Our 
heart feels torn asunder between these opposed efforts. But 
it would be very unfair to impute this violence to God, who 
is drawing us on, instead of to the world, which is holding 
us back. It is as a child, which a mother tears from the 
arms of robbers, in the pain it suffers, should love the loving 
and legitimate violence of her who procures its liberty, and 
detest only the impetuous and tyrannical violence of those 
who detain it unjustly. The most cruel war which God 
can make with men in this life is to leave them without 
that war which He came to bring. " I came to send war," 
He says, " and to teach them of this war. I came to bring 
fire and the sword." Before Him the world lived in this 
false peace. 

499 

External works. — There is nothing so perilous as what 
pleases God and man. For those states, which please God 
and man, have one property which pleases God, and another 
which pleases men; as the greatness of Saint Theresa. 
What pleased God was her deep humility in the midst of her 
revelations ; what pleased men was her light. And so we tor- 
ment ourselves to imitate her discourses, thinking to imitate 
her conditions, and not so much to love what God loves, 
and to put ourselves in the state which God loves. 

It is better not to fast, and be thereby humbled, than 
to fast and be self-satisfied therewith. The Pharisee and 
the Publican. 

What use will memory be to me, if it can alike hurt and 
help me, and all depends upon the blessing of God, who 
gives only to things done for Him, according to His rules 
and in His ways, the manner being thus as important as the 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 167 

thing, and perhaps more; since God can bring forth good 
out of evil, and without God we bring forth evil out of 
good? 

500 

The meaning of the words, good and evil. 

501 

First step : to be blamed for doing evil, and praised for 
doing good. 

Second step: to be neither praised nor blamed. 

502 

Abraham took nothing for himself, but only for his serv- 
ants. So the righteous man takes for himself nothing of 
the world, nor of the applause of the world, but only for 
his passions, which he uses as their master, saying to the 
one, " Go/* and to another, " Come." Sub te erit appetitus 
tuus.^ The passions thus subdued are virtues. Even God 
attributes to Himself avarice, jealousy, anger; and these are 
virtues as well as kindness, pity, constancy, which are also 
passions. We must employ them as slaves, and, leaving 
to them their food, prevent the soul from taking any of 
it. For, when the passions become masters, they are vices; 
and they give their nutriment to the soul, and the soul 
nourishes itself upon it, and is poisoned. 

503 

Philosophers have consecrated the vices by placing them 
in God Himself. Christians have consecrated the virtues. 

504 
The just man acts by faith in the least things; when he 
reproves his servants, he desires their conversion by the 
Spirit of God, and prays God to correct them; and he ex- 
pects as much from God as from his own reproofs, and 
prays God to bless his corrections. And so in all his other 
actions he proceeds with the Spirit of God; and his actions 

'•Genesis, iv. 7. 



168 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

deceive us by reason of the . . . or suspension of the 
Spirit of God in him; and he repents in his affliction. 

505 

All things can be deadly to us, even the things made to 
serve us; as in nature walls can kill us, and stairs can 
kill us, if we do not walk circumspectly. 

The least movement affects all nature; the entire sea 
changes because of a rock. Thus in grace, the least action 
affects everything by its consequences; therefore everything 
is important. 

In each action we must look beyond the action at our past, 
present, and future state, and at others whom it affects, and 
see the relations of all those things. And then we shall 
be very cautious. 

506 

Let God not impute to us our sins, that is to say, all 
the consequences and results of our sins, which are dread- 
ful, even those of the smallest faults, if we wish to follow 
them out mercilessly ! 

507 
The spirit of grace; the hardness of the heart; external 
circumstances. 

508 

Grace is indeed needed to turn a man into a saint; and 
he who doubts it does not know what a saint or a man is. 

509 
Philosophers. — A fine thing to cry to a man who does 
not know himself, that he should come of himself to God! 
And a fine thing to say so to a man who does know himself ! 

510 

Man is not worthy of God, but he is not incapable of 
being made worthy. 

It is unworthy of God to unite Himself to wretched man; 
but it is not unworthy of God to pull him out of his misery. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 169 



If we would say that man is too insignificant to deserve 
communion with God, we must indeed be very great to 
judge of it. 

512 

It is, in peculiar phraseology, wholly the body of Jesus 
Christ, but it cannot be said to be the whole body of Jesus 
Christ. The union of two things without change does not 
enable us to say that one becomes the other; the soul thus 
being united to the body, the fire to the timber, without 
change. But change is necessary to make the form of the 
one become the form of the other; thus the union of the 
Word to man. Because my body without my soul would 
not make the body of a man; therefore my soul united to 
any matter whatsoever will make my body. It does not 
distinguish the necessary condition from the sufficient con- 
dition; the union is necessary, but not sufficient. The left 
arm is not the right. 

Impenetrability is a property of matter. 

Identity of number in regard to the same time requires 
the identity of matter. 

Thus if God united my soul to a body in China, the same 
body, idem numcro, would be in China. 

The same river which runs there is idem numero as that 
which runs at the same time in China. 

513 
Why God has established prayer. 

1. To communicate to His creatures the dignity of caus- 
ality. 

2. To teach us from whom our virtue comes. 

3. To make us deserve other virtues by work. 

But to keep His own pre-eminence, He grants prayer to 
whom He pleases. 

Objection: But we believe that we hold prayer of our- 
selves. 

This is absurd ; for since, though having faith, we cannot 



170 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

have virtues, how should we have faith? Is there a greater 
distance between infidelity and faith than between faith and 
virtue ? 

Merit This word is ambiguous. 

Meruit habere Redemptorem}* 

Meruit tarn sacra membra tangere.^ 

Digno tarn sacra membra tangere^ 

Non sum dignus.^'' 

Qui manducat indignus.^ 

Dignus est accipere^^ 

Dignare mej* 

God is only bound according to His promises. He has 
promised to grant justice to prayers; He has never promised 
prayer only to the children of promise. 

Saint Augustine has distinctly said that strength would 
be taken away from the righteous. But it is by chance that 
he said it; for it might have happened that the occasion of 
saying it did not present itself. But his principles make 
us see that when the occasion for it presented itself, it was 
impossible that he should not say it, or that he should say 
anything to the contrary. It is then rather that he was 
forced to say it, when the occasion presented itself, than that 
he said it, when the occasion presented itself, the one being 
of necessity, the other of chance. But the two are all 
that we can ask. 

514 

" Work out your own salvation with fear." 

Proofs of prayer. Petenti dabitur^ 

Therefore it is in our power to ask. On the other hand, 
there is God. So it is not in our power, since the obtaining 
of (the grace) to pray to Him in not in our power. For since 
salvation is not in us, and the obtaining of such grace is 
from Him, prayer is not in our power. 

The righteous man should then hope no more in God, 
for he ought not to hope, but to strive to obtain what he 
wants. 

** " He deserved to have a Redeemer." 

'** ** He deserved to touch members so sacred.*' 

^* " I deem him worthy to touch, etc." 

*' " I am not worthy." — Luke, vii. 6. ^ i Cor,, xi. 27, 

JSRerel., iv. 11. a>"To deem me worthy." »Matt., viL 7, 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 171 

Let us conclude then that, since man is now unrighteous 
since the first sin, and God is unwilling that he should there- 
by not be estranged from Him, it is only by <i first effect that 
he is not estranged. 

Therefore, those who depart from God have not this first 
effect without which they are not estranged from God, 
and those who do not depart from God have this first effect. 
Therefore, those whom we have seen possessed for some 
time of grace by this first effect, cease to pray, for want 
of this first effect. 

Then God abandons the first in this sense. 



515 
The elect will be ignorant of their virtues, and the out- 
cast of the greatness of their sins : " Lord, when saw we 
Thee an hungered, thirsty ? " &c. 

Romans iii. 2y. Boasting is excluded. By what law? 
Of works? nay, but by faith. Then faith is not within our 
power like the deeds of the law, and it is given to us in 
another way. 

517 

Comfort yourselves. It is not from yourselves that you 
should expect grace; but, on the contrary, it is in expecting 
nothing from yourselves, that you must hope for it. 

518 

Every condition, and even the martyrs, have to fear, 
according to Scripture. 

The greatest pain of purgatory is the uncertainty of the 
judgment. Dciis absconditus.^ 

519 
John viii. Miilti crediderunt in eum. Dicebat ergo Jesus: 
"Si manseritis . . . vere mei discipuli eritis, et Veritas 
« « A hidden God." 



172 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

liberabit vos." Responderunt : "Semen Abrahce sumtis, ei 
nemini servimus unquam." 

There is a great difference between disciples and true 
disciples. We recognise them by telling them that the 
truth will make them free ; for if they answer that they are 
free, and that it is in their power to come out of slavery to 
the devil, they are indeed disciples, but not true disciples. 

520 

The law has not destroyed nature, but has instructed it; 
grace has not destroyed the law, but has made it act. Faith 
received at baptism is the source of the whole life of 
Christians and of the converted. 

521 
Grace will always be in the world, and nature also; 
so that the former is in some sort natural. And thus there 
will always be Pelagians, and always Catholics, and always 
strife; because the first birth makes the one, and the grace 
of the second birth the other. 

522 

The law imposed what it did not give. Grace gives what 
it imposes. 

523 
All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam, and all 
morality in lust and in grace. 

524 
There is no doctrine more appropriate to man than this, 
which teaches him his double capacity of receiving and of 
losing grace, because of the double peril to which he is ex- 
posed, of despair or of pride. 

525 

The philosophers did not prescribe feelings suitable to 
the two states. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 173 

They inspired feelings of pure greatness, and that is not 
man's state. 

They inspired feelings of pure littleness, and that is not 
man's state. 

There must be feelings of humility, not from nature, but 
from penitence, not to rest in them, but to go on to greatness. 
There must be feelings of greatness, not from merit, but 
from grace, and after having passed through humiliation. 

526 

Misery induces despair, pride induces presumption. The 
Incarnation shows man the greatness of his misery by the 
greatness of the remedy which he required. 



527 

The knowledge of God without that of man's misery causes 
pride. The knowledge of man's misery without that of God 
causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ constitutes 
the middle course, because in Him we find both God and our 
misery, 

528 

Jesus Christ is a God whom we approach without pride, 
and before whom we humble ourselves without despair. 

529 

. . . Not a degradation which renders us incapable of 
good, nor a holiness exempt from evil. 

530 

A person told me one day that on coming from confession 
he felt great joy and confidence. Another told me that he 
remained in fear. Whereupon I thought that these two to- 
gether would make one good man, and that each was wanting 
in that he had not the feeling of the other. The same often 
happens in other things. 



m PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



531 

He who knows the will of his master will be beaten with 
more blows, because of the power he has by his knowledge. 
Qui Justus est, justiUcetur adhuc^ because of the power he 
has by justice. From him who has received most, will the 
greatest reckoning be demanded, because of the power he 
has by this help. 

532 

Scripture has provided passages of consolation and of 
warning for all conditions. 

Nature seems to have done the same thing by her two 
infinities, natural and moral; for we shall always have the 
higher and the lower, the more clever and the less clever, 
the most exalted and the meanest, in order to humble our 
pride, and exalt our humility. 

533 

Comminutum cor^ (Saint Paul). This is the Christian 
character. Alba has named you, I know you no more (Cor- 
neille). That is the inhuman character. The human char- 
acter is the opposite. 

534 

There are only two kinds of men: the righteous, who 
believe themselves sinners; the rest, sinners, who believe 
themselves righteous. 

535 
We owe a great debt to those who point out faults. For 
they mortify us. They teach us that we have been despised. 
They do not prevent our being so in the future ; for we have 
many other faults for which we may be despised. They pre- 
pare for us the exercise of correction and freedom from 
fault. 

536 

Man is so made that by continually telling him he Is a 
fool he believes it, and by continually telling it to himself 
*ReveL, xxiL 11. ••*'A broken heart.'* 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE m 

be makes himself believe it. For man holds an inward talk 
with his self alone, which it behoves him to regulate well; 
Corrumpunt mores bonos colloquia pravaf" We must keep 
silent as much as possible, and talk with ourselves only of 
God, whom we know to be true ; and thus we convince our- 
selves of the truth. 

537 

Christianity is strange. It bids man recognise that he 
is vile, even abominable, and bids him desire to be like God. 
Without such a counterpoise, this dignity would make him 
horribly vain, or this humiliation would make him terribly 
abject. 

S38 

With how little pride does a Christian believe himself 
united to God! With how little humiliation does he place 
himself on a level with the worms of earth ! 

A glorious manner to welcome life and death, good and 
evil! 

539 

What diflference in point of obedience is there between 
a soldier and a Carthusian monk? For both are equally 
under obedience and dependent, both engage in equally 
painful exercises. But the soldier always hopes to com- 
mand, and never attains this, for even captains and princes 
are ever slaves and dependents; still he ever hopes and ever 
works to attain this. Whereas the Carthusian monk makes 
a vow to be always dependent. So they do not differ in 
their perpetual thraldom, in which both of them always 
exist, but in the hope, which one always has, and the other 
never. 

540 

The hope which Christians have of possessing an infinite 
good is mingled with real enjoyment as well as with fear; 
for it is not as with those who should hope for a kingdom, 
of which they, being subjects, would have nothing; but they 
hope for holiness, for freedom from injustice, and they have 
something of this. 

* t Cor., xv. 33. 



176 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

None IS so happy as a true Christian, nor so reasonable, 
virtuous, or amiable. 

542 

The Christian religion alone makes man altogether lov- 
able and happy. In honesty, we cannot perhaps be altogether 
lovable and happy. 

543 

Preface. — The metaphysical proofs of God are so remote 
from the reasoning of men, and so complicated, that they 
make little impression; and if they should be of service to 
some, it would be only during the moment that they see 
such demonstration; but an hour afterwards they fear they 
have been mistaken. 

Quod ciiriositate cognoverunt superbia amisertinf.^ 

This is the result of the knowledge of God obtained with- 
out Jesus Christ ; it is communion without a mediator with 
the God whom they have known without a mediator. Where- 
as those who have known God by a mediator know their 
own wretchedness. 

544 

The God of the Christians is a God who makes the soul 
feel that He is her only good, that her only rest is in Him, 
that her only delight is in loving Him; and who makes her 
at the same time abhor the obstacles which keep her back, 
and prevent her from loving God with all her strength. 
Self-love and lust, which hinder us, are unbearable to her. 
Thus God makes her feel that she has this root of self- 
love which destroys her, and which He alone can cure. 

545 

Jesus Christ did nothing but teach men that they loved 
themselves, that they were slaves, blind, sick, wretched, and 
sinners; that He must deliver them, enlighten, bless, and 
heal them; that this would be effected by hating self, and 

* " What they knew by searching they have lost by pride." — St. Augus* 
tine. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 177 

by following Him through suffering and the death on the 
cross. 

546 
Without Jesus Christ man must be in vice and misery; 
with Jesus Christ man is free from vice and misery; in 
Him is all our virtue and all our happiness. Apart from 
Him there is but vice, misery, darkness, death, despair. 

547 
We know God only by Jesus Christ. Without this medi- 
atoi- all communion with God is taken away; through Jesus 
Christ we know God. All those who have claimed to know 
God, and to prove Him without Jesus Christ, have had only 
weak proofs. But in proof of Jesus Christ we have the 
prophecies, which are solid and palpable proofs. And these 
prophecies, being accomplished and proved ^rue by the 
event, mark the certainty of these truths, and therefore the 
divinity of Christ. In Him then, and through Him, we know 
God. Apart from Him, and without the Scripture, without 
original sin, without a necessary Mediator promised and 
come, we cannot absolutely prove God, nor teach right doc- 
trine and right morality. But through Jesus Christ, and in 
Jesus Christ, we prove God, and teach morality and doctrine. 
Jesus Christ is then the true God of men. 

But we know at the same time our wretchedness; for 
this God IS none other than the Saviour of our wretched- 
ness. So we can only know God well by knowing our 
iniquities. Therefore those who have known God, without 
knowing their wretchedness, have not glorified Him, but 
have glorified themselves. Quia . . . non cognovit per 
sapientiam . . . placuit Deo per stultitiam prcedicationis 
salvos facere,^ 

54S 

Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but 
we know ourselves only by Jesus Christ. We know life and 
death only through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, 
we do not know what is our life, nor our death, nor God, 
nor ourselves. 

s' I Cor., i. at. 



178 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Thus without the Scripture, which has Jesus Christ alone 
for its object, we know nothing, and see only darkness and 
confusion in the nature of God, and in our own nature. 

549 

It is not only impossible but useless to know God without 
Jesus Christ. They have not departed from Him, but ap- 
proached ; they have not humbled themselves, but . . . 

Quo quisque optimus est. pessimus, si hoc ipsum, quod 
optimus est, adscribat sibi.^ 

550 

I love poverty because He loved it. I love riches because 
they afford me the means of helping the very poor. I keep 
faith with everybody; I do not render evil to those who 
wrong me, but I wish them a lot like mine, in which I re- 
ceive neither evil nor good from men. I try to be just, true, 
sincere, and faithful to all men; I have a tender heart for 
those to wi^um God has more closely united me ; and whether 
I am alone, or seen of men, I do all my actions in the sight 
of God, who must judge of them, and to whom I have con- 
secrated them all. 

These are my sentiments; and every day of my life I bless 
my Redeemer, who has implanted them in me, and who, of a 
man full of weaknesses, of miseries, of lust, of pride, and of 
ambition, has made a man free from all these evils by the 
power of His grace, to which all the glory of it is due, as 
of myself I have only misery and error. 

551 
Dignior plagis quam osculis non Hmeo quia amoJ* 

552 

The Sepulchre of Jesus Christ, — ^Jesus Christ was dead, 
but seen on the Cross. He was dead, and hidden in the 
Sepulchre. 

2* * Tlie quality which makes any one best makes hirr. worst, if he claim© 
it for himself." 

2» " Though I deserve blows rather than kisses, I do not fear, because I 
love." 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 179 

Jesus Christ was buried by the saints alone. 

Jesus Christ wrought no miracle at the Sepulchre. 

Only the saints entered it. 

It is there, not on the Cross, that Jesus Christ takes a 
new life. 

It is the last mystery of the Passion and the Redemption. 

Jesus Christ had nowhere to rest on earth but in the 
Sepulchre. 

His enemies only ceased to persecute Him at the Sepul- 
chre. 

553 

The Mystery of Jesus. — Jesus suffers in His passion the 
torments which men inflict upon Him; but in His agony He 
suffers the torments which He inflicts on Himself; turhare 
semitipsum!^ This is a suffering from no human, but an 
almighty hand, for He must be almighty to bear it. 

Jesus seeks some comfort at least in His three dearest 
friends, and they are asleep. He prays them to bear with 
Him for a little, and they leave Him with entire indifference, 
having so little compassion that it could not prevent their 
sleeping even for a moment. And thus Jesus was left 
alone to the wrath of God. 

Jesus is alone on the earth, without any one not only to 
feel and share His sufferings, but even to know of it; He and 
Heaven were alone in that knowledge. 

Jesus is in a garden, not of delight as the first Adam, 
where he lost himself and the whole human race, but in 
one of agony, where He saved Himself and the whole human 
race. 

He suffers this affliction and this desertion in the horror 
of night. 

I believe that Jesus never complained but on this single 
occasion; but then He complained as if he could no longer 
bear His extreme suffering. " My soul is sorrowful, even 
unto death." 

Jesus seeks companionship and comfort from men. This 
is the sole occasion in all His life, as it seems to me. But 
He receives it not, for His disciples are asleep. 

»John, xi. 33. 



180 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Jesus will be in agony even to the end of the world. We 
must not sleep during that time. 

Jesus, in the midst of this universal desertion, including 
that of His own friends chosen to watch with Him, finding 
them asleep, is vexed because of the danger to which they 
expose, not Him, but themselves; He cautions them for 
their own safety and their own good, with a sincere tender- 
ness for them during their ingratitude, and warns them 
that the spirit is willing and the flesh weak. 

Jesus, finding them still asleep, without being restrained 
by any consideration for themselves or for Him, has the 
kindness not to waken them, and leaves them in repose. 

Jesus prays, uncertain of the will of His Father, and 
fears death ; but, when He knows it, He goes forward to 
offer Himself to death. Eamus. Processif^ (John). 

Jesus asked of men and was not heard. 

Jesus, while His disciples slept, wrought their salvation. 
He has wrought that of each of the righteous while they 
slept, both in their nothingness before their birth, and in 
their sins after their birth. 

He prays only once that the cup pass away, and then 
with submission; and twice that it come if necessary. 

Jesus is weary. 

Jesus, seeing all His friends asleep and all His enemies 
wakeful, commits Himself entirely to His Father. 

Jesus does not regard In Judas his enmity, but the order 
of God, which He loves and admits, since He calls him 
friend. 

Jesus tears Himself away from His disciples to enter into 
His agony; we must tear ourselves away from our nearest 
and dearest to imitate Him. 

Jesus being in agony and In the greatest affliction, let us 
pray longer. 

We implore the mercy of God, not that He may leave us 
at peace in our vices, but that He may deliver us from 
them. 

If God gave us masters by His own hand, Oh ! how 
necessary for us to obey them with a good heart ! Necessity 
and events follow infallibly. 

*iJohn, xviii. 4. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 181 

— "Console thyself, thou wouldst not seek Me, if thou 
hadst not found Me. 

"I thought of thee in Mine agony, I have sweated such 
drops of blood for thee. 

" It is tempting Me rather than proving thyself, to think if 
thou wouldst do such and such a thing on an occasion which 
has not happened; I shall act in thee if it occur. 

" Let thyself be guided by My rules; see how well I have 
led the Virgin and the saints who have let Me act in 
them. 

" The Father loves all that I do. 

" Dost thou wish that it always cost Me the blood of My 
humanity, without thy shedding tears? 

"Thy conversion is My affair; fear not, and pray with 
confidence as for Me. 

" I am present with thee by My Word in Scripture, by My 
Spirit in the Church and by inspiration, by My power in the 
priests, by My prayer in the faithful. 

" Physicians will not heal thee, for thou wilt die at 
last. But it is I who heal thee, and make the body im- 
mortal. 

" Suffer bodily chains and servitude, I deliver thee at 
present only from spiritual servitude. 

" I am more a friend to thee than such and such an 
one, for I have done for thee more than they; they 
would not have suffered what I have suffered from 
thee, and they would not have died for thee as I have 
done in the time of thine infidelities and cruelties, and 
as I am ready to do, and do, among my elect and at the 
Holy Sacrament." 

" If thou knewest thy sins, thou wouldst lose heart." 

— I shall lose it then, Lord, for on Thy assurance I believe 
their malice. 

— " No, for I, by whom thou learnest, can heal thee of 
them, and what I say to thee is a sign that I will heal thee. 
In proportion to thy expiation of them, thou wilt know them, 
and it will be said to thee : * Behold, thy sins are forgiven 
thee.' Repent, then, for thy hidden sins, and for the secret 
malice of those which thou knowest." 

— Lord, I give Thee all. 



182 PASCAL'S THOUGfHTS 

— "I love thee more ardently than thou hast loved thine 
abominations, ut immundus pro luto.** 

" To Me be the glory, not to thee, worm of the earth. 

"Ask thy confessor, when My own words are to thee 
occasion of evil, vanity, or curiosity." 

— I see in me depths of pride, curiosity and lust. There 
is no relation between me and God nor Jesus Christ the 
Righteous. But He has been made sin for me; all Thy 
scourges are fallen upon Him. He is more abominable than 
I, and, far from abhorring me, He holds Himself honoured 
that I go to Him and succor Him. 

But He has healed Himself, and still more so will He 
heal me. 

I must add my wounds to His, and join myself to Him; 
and He will save me in saving Himself. But this must not 
be postponed to the future. 

Erifis sicut dii scientes bonum et malum^ Each one 
creates his god, when judging, "This is good or bad;" and 
men mourn or rejoice too much at events. 

Do little things as though they were great, because of the 
majesty of Jesus Christ who does them in us, and who lives 
our life; and do the greatest things as though they were 
little and easy, because of His omnipotence. 



554 

It seems to me that Jesus Christ only allowed His wounds 
to be touched after His resurrection: Noli me tangere.^* 
We must unite ourselves only to His sufferings. 

At the Last Supper He gave Himself in communion as 
about to die; to the disciples at Emmaus as risen from the 
dead; to the whole Church as ascended into heaven. 

555 

"Compare not thyself with others, but with Me. If thou 

dost not find Me in those with whom thou comparest thyself, 

thou comparest thyself to one who is abominable. If thou 

findest Me in them, compare thyself to Me. But whom wilt 

«**A8 foul with day.** « Genesis, iiL 5. »*John, 3tx. 17. 



MORALITY AND DOCTRINE 183 

thou compare? Thyself, or Me in thee? If it is thyself, it 
is one who is abominable. If it is I, thou comparest Me to 
Myself. Now I am God in all. 

" I speak to thee, and often counsel thee, because thy 
director cannot speak to thee, for I do not want thee to 
lack a guide. 

**And perhaps I do so at his prayers, and thus he leads 
thee without thy seeing it. Thou wouldst not seek Me, if 
thou didst not possess Me. 

" Be not therefore troubled." 



SECTION VIII 
The Fundamentals of the Christian Religion 

556 

MEN blaspheme what they do not know. The Chris- 
tian religion consists in two points. It is of equal 
concern to men to know them, and it is equally 
dangerous to be ignorant of them. And it is equally of God's 
mercy that He has given indications of both. 

And yet they take occasion to conclude that one of these 
points does not exist, from that which should have caused 
them to infer the other. The sages who have said there is 
only one God have been persecuted, the Jews were hated, and 
still more the Christians. They have seen by the light of 
nature that if there be a true religion on earth, the course 
of all things must tend to it as to a centre. 

The whole course of things must have for its object the 
establishment and the greatness of religion. ^Men must have 
within them feelings suited to what religion teaches us. 
And, finally, religion must so be the object and centre to 
which all things tend, that whoever knows the principles of 
religion can give an explanation both of the whole nature of 
man in particular, and of the whole course of the world in 
general. 

And on this ground they take occasion to revile the 
Christian religion, because they misunderstand it. They 
imagine that it consists simply in the worship of a God con- 
sidered as great, powerful, and eternal; which is strictly 
deism, almost as far removed from the Christian religion 
as atheism, which is its exact opposite. And thence they 
conclude that this religion is not true, because they do not 
see that all things concur to the establishment of this point, 
that God does not manifest Himself to men with all the 
evidence which He could show. 

184 



THE FUNDAMENTALS 185 

But let them conclude what they will against deism, they 
will conclude nothing against the Christian religion, which 
properly consists in the mystery of the Redeemer, who, 
uniting in Himself the two natures, human and divine, has 
redeemed men from the corruption of sin in order to recon- 
cile them in His divine person to God. 

The Christian religion then teaches men these two truths; 
that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is 
a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy 
of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these 
points; and it is equally dangerous for man J;o know God 
without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his 
own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can 
free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points 
gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have 
known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the 
despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but 
not the Redeemer. 

And, as it is alike necessary to man to know these two 
points, so is it alike merciful of God to have made us know 
them. The Christian religion does this; it is in this that it 
consists. 

Let us herein examine the order of the world, and see if 
all things do not tend to establish these two chief points of 
this religion: Jesus Christ is the end of all, and the centre 
to which all tends. Whoever knows Him knows the reason 
of everything. 

Those who fall into error err only through failure to see 
one of these two things. We can then have an excellent 
knowledge of God without that of our own wretchedness, 
and of our own wretchedness without that of God. But we 
cannot know Jesus Christ without knowing at the same time 
both God and our own wretchedness. 

Therefore I shall not undertake here to prove by natural 
reasons either the existence of God, or the Trinity, or the 
immortality of the soul, or anything of that nature; not 
only because I should not feel myself sufficiently able to 
find in nature arguments to convince hardened atheists, but 
also because such knowledge without Jesus Christ is useless 
and barren. Though a man should be convinced that numer- 



186 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

ical proportions are immaterial truths, eternal and dependent 
on a first truth, in which they subsist, and which is called 
God, I should not think him far advanced towards his own 
salvation. 

The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the 
author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the 
elements; that is the view of heathens and Epicureans. He 
is not merely a God who exercises His providence over the 
life and fortunes of men, to bestow on those who worship 
Him a long and happy life. That was the portion of the 
Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God 
of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and of 
comfort, a God who fills the soul and heart of those whom 
He possesses, a God who makes them conscious of their in- 
ward wretchedness, and His infinite mercy, who unites Him- 
self to their inmost soul, who fills it with humility and joy, 
with confidence and love, who renders them incapable of 
any other end than Himself. 

All who seek God without Jesus Christ, and who rest in 
nature, either find no light to satisfy them, or come to form 
for themselves a means of knowing God and serving Him 
without a mediator. Thereby they fall either into atheism, 
or into deism, two thi.igs which the Christian religion abhors 
almost equally. 

Without Jesus Christ the world would not exist; for it 
should needs be either that it would be destroyed or be a 
hell. 

If the world existed to instruct man of God, His divinity 
would shine through every part in it in an indisputable 
manner ; but as it exists only by Jesus Christ, and for Jesus 
Christ, and to teach men both their corruption and their 
redemption, all displays the proofs of these two truths. 

All appearance indicates neither a total exclusion nor a 
manifest presence of divinity, but the presence of a God 
who hides Himself. Everything bears this character. 

, . . Shall he alone who knows his nature know it only 
to be miserable? Shall he alone who knows it be alone 
unhappy ? 

. . . He must not see nothing at all, nor must he see 
sufficient for him to believe he possesses it ; but he must see 



THE FUNDAMENTALS 187 

enough to know that he has lost it For to know of his loss, 
he must see and not see; and that is exactly the state in 
which he naturally is. 

. , , Whatever part he takes, I shall not leave him at 
rest . . • 

557 
, . . It is then true that everything teaches man his 
condition, but he must understand this well. For it is not 
true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all conceals 
God. Bu it is at the same time true that He hides Himself 
from those who tempt Him, and that He reveals Himself to 
those who seek Him, because men are both unworthy and 
capable of God; unworthy by their corruption, capable by 
their original nature. 

SS8 
What shall we conclude from all our darkness, but our 
unworthiness? 

559 
If there never had been any appearance of God, this 
eternal deprivation would have been equivocal, and might 
have as well corresponded with the absence of all divinity, as 
with the unworthiness of men to Know Him ; but His occa- 
sional, though not continual, appearances remove the ambi- 
guity. If He appeared once. He exists always ; and thus we 
cannot but conclude both that there is a God, and that men 
are unworthy of Him. 

560 

We do not understand the glorious state of Adam, nor the 
nature of his sin, nor the transmission of it to us. These 
are matters which took place under conditions of a nature 
altogether different from our own, and which transcend our 
present tmderstanding. 

The knowledge of all this is useless to us as a means of 
escape from it; and all that we are concerned to know, is 
that we are miserable, corrupt, separated from God, but 
ransomed by Jesus Christ, whereof we have wonderful 
proofs on earth. 

So the two proofs of corruption and redemption are drawn 



188 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

from the ungodly, who live in indifference to religion, and 
from the Jews who are irreconcilable enemies. 



561 

There are two ways of proving the truths of our religion; 
one by the power of reason, the other by the authority of 
him who speaks. 

We do not make use of the latter, but of the former. We 
do not say, " This must be believed, for Scripture, which 
says it, is divine." But we say that it must be believed for 
such and such a reason, which are feeble arguments, as 
reason may be bent to everything, 

562 

There is nothing on earth that does not show either the 
wretchedness of man, or the mercy of God; either the weak- 
ness of man without God, or the strength of man with God. 

563 
It will be one of the confusions of the damned to see 
that they are condemned by their own reason, by which they 
claimed to condemn the Christian religion. 

The prophecies, the very miracles and proofs of our relig- 
ion, are not of such a nature that they can be said to be 
absolutely convincing. But they are also of such a kind that 
it cannot be said that it is unreasonable to believe them. 
Thus there is both evidence and obscurity to enlighten some 
and confuse others. But the evidence is such that it sur- 
passes, or at least equals, the evidence to the contrary; so 
that it is not reason which can determine men not to follow 
it, and thus it can only be lust or malice of heart. And by 
this means there is sufficient evidence to condemn, and in- 
sufficient to convince; so that it appears in those who fol- 
low it, that it is grace, and not reason, which makes them 



THE FUNDAMENTALS j82 

follow it ; and in those who shun it, that it is lust, not reason, 
which makes them shun it. 

Vere discipuli, vere Israelita, vere liberi, vere cihus^ 

S6S 

Recognise, then, the truth of religion in the very obscurity 
of religion, in the little light we have of it, and in the in- 
difference which we have to knowing it. 

566 

We understand nothing of the works of God, if we do 
not take as a principle that He has willed to blind some, 
and enlighten others. 

567 

The two contrary reasons. We must begin with that; 
without that we understand nothing, and all is heretical; 
and we must even add at the end of each truth that the 
opposite truth is to be remembered. 

568 

Objection, The Scripture is plainly full of matters not 
dictated by the Holy Spirit. — Answer. Then they do not 
harm faith. — Objection, But the Church has decided that 
all is of the Holy Spirit — Answer, I answer two things: 
first, the Church has not so decided; secondly, if she should 
so decide, it could be maintained. 

Do you think that the prophecies cited in the Gospel are 
related to make you believe? No, it is to kee^ you from 
believing. 

569 

Canonical. — The heretical books in the beginning of the 
Church serve to prove the canonical. 

570 

To the chapter on the Fundamentals must be added that on 
Typology touching the reason of types: why Jesus Christ 

* In allusion to John, viii. 31; i. 47; viii. 36; vi. 32; "Verily discipleSt 
verily an Israelite, verily children, verily food." 



190 PASCAL'S THOUGHHTS 

was prophesied as to His first coming; why prophesied 
obscurely as to the manner. 

571 

The reason why. Types. — [They had to deal with a 
carnal people and to render them the depositary of the 
spiritual covenant.] To give faith to the Messiah, it was 
necessary there should have been precedent prophecies, and 
that these should be conveyed by persons above suspicion, 
diligent, faithful, unusually zealous, and known to all the 
world. 

To accomplish all this, God chose this carnal people, to 
whom He entrusted the prophecies which foretell the Mes- 
siah as a deliverer, and as a dispenser of those carnal goods 
which this people loved. And thus they have had an extra- 
ordinary passion for their prophets, and, in sight of the 
whole world, have had charge of these books which foretell 
their Messiah, assuring all nations that He should come, and 
in the way foretold in the books, which they held open to 
the whole world. Yet this people, deceived by the poor and 
ignominious advent of the Messiah, have been His most 
cruel enemies. So that they, the people least open to sus- 
picion in the world of favouring us, the most strict and 
most zealous that can be named for their law and their 
prophets, have kept the books incorrupt. Hence those 
who have rejected and crucified Jesus Christ, who has 
been to them an offence, are those who have charge of 
the books which testify of Him, and state that He will 
be an offence and rejected. Therefore they have shown 
it was He by rejecting Him, and He has been alike 
proved both by the righteous Jews who received Him, and 
by the unrighteous who rejected Him, both facts hav- 
ing been foretold. 

Wherefore the prophecies have a hidden and spiritual 
meaning, to which this people were hostile, under the carnal 
meaning which they loved. H the spiritual meaning had 
been revealed, they would not have loved it, and, unable to 
bear it, they would not have been zealous of the preserva- 
tion of their books and their ceremonies; and if they had 
loved these spiritual promises, and had preserved them in- 



THE FUNDAMENTALS 191 

corrupt till the time of the Messiah, their testimony would 
have had no force,, because they had been his friends. 

Therefore It was well that the spiritual meaning should 
be concealed; but, on the other hand, if this meaning had 
been so hidden as not to appear at all, it could not have 
served as a proof of the Messiah. What then was done? 
In a crowd of passages it has been hidden under the temporal 
meaning, and in a few has been clearly revealed; besides 
that the time and the sute of the world have been so clearly 
foretold that it is clearer than the sun. And in some places 
this spiritual meaning Is so clearly expressed, that it would 
require a blindness like that which the flesh imposes on the 
spirit when it is subdued by it, not to recognise it. 

See then what has been the prudence of God. This 
meaning is concealed tinder another in an infinite number of 
passages, and in some, though rarely, it is revealed; but yet 
so that the passages in which it is concealed are equivocal, 
and can suit both meanings; whereas the passages where 
it is disclosed are unequivocal., and can only suit the spiritual 
meaning. 

So that this cannot lead us into error, and could only be 
misunderstood by sc carnal a people. 

For when blessings are promised in abundance, what was 
to prevent them from understanding the true blessings, but 
their covetousness,, which limited the meaning to worldly 
goods? But those whose only good was in God referred 
them to God alone- For there are two principles, which 
divide the wills of men, covetousness and charity. Not that 
covetousness cannot exist along with faith in God, nor 
charity v/ith worldly riches ; but covetousness uses God, and 
enjoys the world, and charity is the opposite. 

Now the ultimate end gives names to things. All which 
prevents us from attaining it, is called an enemy to us. 
Thus the creatures, however good, are the enemies of the 
righteous, when they turn them away from God, and God 
Himself is the enemy of those whose covetousness He con- 
founds. 

Thus as the significance of the word ** enemy'' is de- 
pendent on the ultimate end, the righteous understood by it 
their passions, and the carnal the Babylonian? ; and so these 



192 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

terms were obscure only for the unrighteous. And this is 
what Isaiah says: Signa legem in electis meis^ and that 
Jesus Christ shall be a stone of stumbling. But, " Blessed 
are they who shall not be offended in him." Hosea, ult., 
says excellently, " Where is the wise ? and he shall under- 
stand what I say. The righteous shall know them, for the 
ways of God are right; but the transgressors shall fall 
therein." 

572 

Hypothesis that the apostles were impostors. — The time 
clearly, the manner obscurely. — Five typical proofs. 

\ 1600 prophets. 

2000 ■{ rl 1 

( 400 scattered. 

573 
Blindness of Scripture. — " The Scripture," said the Jews, 
" says that we shall not know whence Christ will come 
(John vii. 27 and xii. 34). The Scripture says that Christ 
abideth for ever, and He said that He should die." There- 
fore, says Saint John, they believed not, though He had 
done so many miracles, that the word of Isaiah might be 
fulfilled: "He hath blinded them;' &c. 



574 
Greatness. — Religion is so great a thing that it is right 
cftat those who will not take the trouble to seek it, if it be 
obscure, should be deprived of it. Why then do any com- 
plain, if it be such as can be found by seeking? 

575 
All things work together for good to the elect, even the 
obscurities of Scripture; for they honour them because of 
what is divinely clear. And all things work together for 
evil to the rest of the world, even what is clear; for they 
revile such, because of the obscurities which they do not 
understand. 

s Isaiah, viii. 16. 



THE FUNDAMENTALS 193 

57<5 

The general conduct of the world towards the Church: 
God willing to blind and to enlighten. — The event having 
proved the divinity of these prophecies, the rest ought to 
be believed. And thereby we see the order of the world to 
be of this kind. The miracles of the Creation and the 
Deluge being forgotten, God sends the law and the miracles 
of Moses, the prophets who prophesied particular things; 
and to prepare a lasting miracle, He prepares prophecies 
and their fulfilment; but, as the prophecies could be sus- 
pected, He desires to make them above suspicion, &c. 



577 
God has made the blindness of this people subservient to 
the good of the elect. 

578 

There is sufKcient clearness to enlighten the elect, and 
sufficient obscurity to humble them. There is sufficient ob- 
scurity to blind the reprobate, and sufficient clearness to 
condemn them, and make them inexcusable. — Saint Augus- 
tine, Montaigne, Sehond. 

The genealogy of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is 
intermingled with so many others that are useless, that it 
cannot be distinguished. If Moses had kept only the record 
of the ancestors of Christ, that might have been too plain. 
If he had not noted that of Jesus Christ, it might not have 
been sufficiently plain. But, after all, whoever looks closely 
sees that of Jesus Christ expressly traced through Tamar, 
Ruth, &c. 

Those who ordained these sacrifices, knew their useless- 
ness; those who have declared their uselessness have not 
ceased to practise them. 

If God had permitted only one religion, it had been too 
easily known; but when we look at it closely, we clearly 
discern the truth amidst this confusion. 

The premiss. — Moses was a clever man. If then he ruled 

HC XLVIII (g> 



194 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

himself by his reason, he would say nothing clearly which 
was directly against reason. 

Thus all the very apparent weaknesses are strength. Ex- 
ample: the two genealogies in Saint Matthew and Saint 
Luke. What can be clearer than that this was not con- 
certed ? 

579 

God (and the Apostles), foreseeing that the seeds of pride 
would make heresies spring up, and being unwilling to give 
them occasion to arise from correct expressions, has put in 
Scripture and the prayers of the Church contrary words 
and sentences to produce their fruit in time. 

So in morals He gives charity, which produces fruits con- 
trary to lust. 

580 

Nature has some perfections to show that she is the 
image of God, and some defects to show that she is only 
His image. 

581 

God prefers rather to incline the will than the intellect. 
Perfect clearness would be of use to the intellect, and would 
harm the will. To humble pride. 

582 

We make an idol of truth itself; for truth apart from 
charity is not God, but His image and idol, which we must 
neither love nor worship; and still less must we love or 
worship its opposite, namely, falsehood. 

I can easily love total darkness; but if God keeps me in 
a state of semi-darkness, such partial darkness displeases 
me, and, because I do not see therein the advantage of total 
darkness, it is unpleasant to me. This is a fault, and a 
sign that I make for myself an idol of darkness, apart from 
the order of God. Now only His order must be worshipped. 



THE FUNDAMENTALS 195 

583 

The feeble-minded are people who know the truth, but 
only affirm it so far as consistent with their own interest. 
But, apart from that, they renounce it. 

584 

The world exists for the exercise of mercy and judgment, ; 
not as if men were placed in it out of the hands of God, 
but as hostile to God ; and to them He grants by grace suffi- 
cient light, that they may return to Him, if they desire to 
seek and follow Him; and also that they may be punished, 
if they refuse to seek or follow Him. 

585 

That God has willed to hide Himself. — If there were only 
one religion, God would indeed be manifest. The same 
would be the case, if there were no martyrs but in our 
religion. 

God being thus hidden, every religion which does not 
affirm that God is hidden, is not true; and every religion 
which does not give the reason of it, is not instructive. Our 
religion does all this: Vere tu es Deus ahsconditus* 

586 

If there were no obscurity, man would not be sensible of 
his corruption; if there were no light, man would not hope 
for a remedy. Thus, it is not only fair, but advantageous 
to us, that God be partly hidden and partly revealed; since 
it is equally dangerous to man to know God without knowing 
his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness 
without knowing God. 

587 

This religion, so great in miracles, saints, blameless 
Fathers, learned and great witnesses, martyrs, established 
kings as David, and Isaiah, a prince of the blood, and so 

* " Truly thou art a hidden God." 



196 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

great in science, after having displayed all her miracles and 
all her wisdom, rejects all this, and declares that she has 
neither wisdom nor signs, but only the cross and foolishness. 
For those, who, by these signs and that wisdom, have 
deserved your belief, and who have proved to you their 
character, declare to you that nothing of all this can change 
you, and render you capable of knowing and loving God, 
but the power of the foolishness of the cross without wis- 
dom and signs, and not the signs without this power. Thus 
our religion is foolish in respect to the effective cause, and 
wise in respect to the wisdom which prepares it. 



588 

Our religion is wise and foolish. Wise, because it is the 
most learned, and the most founded on miracles, prophecies, 
&c. Foolish, because it is not all this which makes us be- 
long to it. This makes us indeed condemn those who do 
not belong to it; but it does not cause belief in those who 
do belong to it. It is the cross that makes them believe, 
ne evacuata sit crux.* And so Saint Paul, who came with 
wisdom and signs, says that he has come neither with wis- 
dom nor with signs ; for he came to convert. But those who 
come only to convince, can say that they come with wisdom 
and with signs. 

* I Cor,, i. 17. 



SECTION IX 

Perpetuity 

589 
y^AT" the fact that the Christian religion is not the only 
t I religion. — So far is this from being a reason for be- 
lieving that it is not the true one, that, on the contrary, 
it makes us see that it is so. 

590 

Men must be sincere in all religions; true heathens, true 
Jews, true Christians. 

591 

J. C 

Heathens I Mahomet 



\ / 

Ignorance 
of God. 



592 

The falseness of other religions. — They have no witnesses. 
The Jews have. God defies other religions to produce such 
signs: Isaiah xviii. 9; xliv. 8. 

593 

History of China. — I believe only the histories, whose wit- 
nesses got themselves killed. 

[Which is the more credible of the two, Moses or China?] 

It is not a question of seeing this summarily. I tell you 
there is in it something to blind, and something to enlighten. 

By this one word I destroy all your reasoning. " But 
China obscures," say you ; and I answer, " China obscures, 
but there is clearness to be found; seek it." 

197 



198 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Thus all that you say makes for one of the views, and 
not at all against the other. So this serves, and does no 
harm. 

We must then see this in detail ; we must put the papers on 
the table. 

594 

Against the history of China. The historians of Mexico, 
the five suns, of which the last is only eight hundred years 
old. 

The difference between a book accepted by a nation, and 
one which makes a nation. 

595 
Mahomet was without authority. His reasons then should 
have been very strong, having only their own force. What 
does he say then, that we must believe him? 

596 

The Psalms are chanted throughout the whole world. 

Who renders testimony to Mahomet? Himself. Jesus 
Christ desires His own testimony to be as nothing. 

The quality of witnesses necessitates their existence al- 
ways and everywhere; and he, miserable creature, is alone. 



597 

Against Mahomet. — The Koran is not more of Mahomet 
than the Gospel is of Saint Matthew, for it is cited by many 
authors from age to age. Even its very enemies, Celsus 
and Porphyry, never denied it. 

The Koran says Saint Matthew was an honest man. 
Therefore Mahomet was a false prophet for calling honest 
men wicked, or for not agreeing with what they have said 
of Jesus Christ. 

598 

It is not by that which is obscure in Mahomet, and which 

may be interpreted in a mysterious sense, that I would have 

him judged, but by what is clear, as his paradise and the 

rest. In that he is ridiculous. And since what is clear is 



PERPETUITY 199 

ridiculous, it is not right to take his obscurities for mys- 
teries. 

It is not the same with the Scripture. I agree that there 
are in it obscurities as strange as those of Mahomet; but 
there are admirably clear passages, and the prophecies are 
manifestly fulfilled. The cases are therefore not on a par. 
We must not confound, and put on one level things which 
only resemble each other in their obscurity, and not in the 
clearness, which requires us to reverence the obscurities. 

599 

The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.-^ 
Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold, 

Mahomet slew; Jesus Christ caused His own to be slain. 

Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered reading. 

In fact the two are so opposed, that if Mahomet took the 
way to succeed from a worldly point of view, Jesus Christ, 
from the same point of view, took the way to perish. And 
instead of concluding that, since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus 
Christ might well have succeeded, we ought to say that 
since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ should have failed. 

600 

Any man can do what Mahomet has done; for he per- 
formed no miracles, he was not foretold. No man can do 
what Christ has done. 

601 

The heathen religion has no foundation [at the present 
day. It is said once to have had a foundation by the oracles 
which spoke. But what are the books which assure us of 
this? Are they so worthy of belief on account of the virtue 
of their authors? Have they been preserved with such care 
that we can be sure that they have not been meddled with ?] 

The Mahomedan religion has for a foundation the Koran 
and Mahomet. But has this prophet, who was to be the 
last hope of the world, been foretold? What sign has he 
that every other man has not, who chooses to call himself 
a prophet ? What miracles does he himself say that he has 



200 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

done ? What mysteries has he taught, even according to his 
own tradition? What was the morality, what the happiness 
held out by him ? 

The Jewish religion must be differently regarded in the 
tradition of the Holy Bible, and m the tradition of the 
people. Its morality and happiness are absurd in the tradi- 
tion of the people, but are admirable in that of the Holy 
Bible. (And all religion is the same; for the Christian 
religion is very different in the Holy Bible and in the 
casuists.) The foundation is admirable; it is the most an- 
cient book In the world, and the most authentic ; and whereas 
Mahomet, in order to make his own book continue in exist- 
ence, forbade men to read it, Moses, for the same reason, 
ordered every one to read his. 

Our religion is so divine that another divine religion has 
only been the foundation of it. 

602 

Order. — To see what is clear and indisputable in the whole 
state of the Jews. 

603 

The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its 
duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its 
effects. 

604 

The only science contrary to common sense and human 
nature is that alone which has always existed among men. 

605 

The only religion contrary to nature, to common sense, 
and to our pleasure, is that alone which has always existed. 

606 

No religion but our own has taught that man is born in 
sin. No sect of philosophers has said this. Therefore none 
have declared the truth. 

No sect or religion has always existed on earth, but the 
Christian religion. 



PERPETUITY 20l 

607 

Whoever judges of the Jewish reh'gion by its coarser 
forms will misunderstand it It is to be seen in the Holy- 
Bible, and in the tradition of the prophets, who have made 
it plain enough that they did not interpret the law according 
to the letter. So our religion is divine in the .Gospel, in the 
Apostles, and in tradition; but it is absurd in those who 
tamper with it. 

The Messiah, according to the carnal Jews, was to be a 
great temporal prince. Jesus Christ, according to carnal 
Christians, has come to dispense us from the love of God, 
and to give us sacraments which shall do everything without 
our help. Such is not the Christian religion, nor the Jewish, 
True Jews and true Christians have always expected a 
Messiah who should make them love God, and by that love 
triumph over their enemies. 

608 

The carnal Jews hold a midway place between Christians 
and heathens. The heathens know not God, and love the 
worid only. The Jews know the true God, and love the 
world only. The Christians know the true God, and love 
not the world. Jews and heathens love the same good, Jews 
and Christians know the same God. 

The Jews were of two kinds; the first had only heathen 
affections, the other had Christian affections. 



609 

There are two kinds of men in each religion: among the 
heathen, worshippers of beasts, and the worshippers of the 
one only God of natural religion ; among the Jews, the carnal, 
and the spiritual, who were the Christians of the old law; 
among Christians, the coarser-minded, v/ho are the Jews of 
the new law. The carnal Jews looked for a carnal Messiah ; 
the coarser Christians believe that the Messiah has dispensed 
them from the love of God; true Jews and true Christians 
worship a Messiah who makes them love God. 



202 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

6m 

To show that the true Jews and the true Christians have 
but the same religion. — The religion of the Jews seemed 
to consist essentially m the fatherhood of Abraham, in cir- 
cumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the 
temple, in Jerusalem, and^ finally, in the law, and in the 
covenant with Moses, 

I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only 
in the love ol God, and that God disregarded all the other 
things. 

That God did not accept the posterity of Abraham. 

That the Jews were to be punished like strangers, if they 
transgressedo Dent. viii. 19: "If thou do at all forget 
the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, I testify 
against you this day that ye shall surely perish, as the 
nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face.** 

That strangers, if they loved God, were to be received 
by Him as the JewSe Isaiah, IvL $i "Let not the stranger 
say, 'The Lord will not receive me," The strangers who 
join themselves isnto the Lord iu> serve Him and iiove Him, 
will I bring unto my holy mountain, and accept therein 
sacrifices, for mine houst. is & house of prayer/* 

That the true Jews consideied their merit to be from 
God only, and not from Abraham. Isaiah, ixiii« 16: " Doubt- 
less thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of 
us, and Israel acknowledge ws not Thou art our Father 
and our Redeemer/' 

Moses himself told them that God would not accept 
persons. Deut. x. 17 : *' God,*' said he^ " regardeth neither 
persons nor sacrifices." 

The Sabbatfe was only a sign, Exod. xxxi. 13 ; and in mem- 
ory of the escape from Egypt, Deut. v. 19. Therefore it is 
no longer necessary, since Egypt must be forgotten. 

CircumcisioR was only a sign, Gen. xvii. ii. And thence 
It came to pass that, being in the desert, they were not 
circumcised^ because they could not be confounded with 
other peoples; ^nd after Jesus Christ came, it was no 
longer necessary. 

That the circumcision of the heart is commanded. Deut, 



PERPETUITY aOS 

X. i6; Jeremiah, iv. 4: "Be ye circumcised in heart; take 
away the superfluities of your heart, and harden your- 
selves not. For your God is a mighty God, strong and 
terrible, who accepteth not persons." 

That God said He would one day do it. Deut. xxx. 6: 
"God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy 
seed, that thou mayest love Him with all thine heart." 

That the uncircumcised in heart shall be judged. Jere- 
miah, ix. 26: For God will judge the uncircumcised peo- 
ples, and all the people of Israel, because he is "uncir- 
cumcised in heart." 

That the external is of no avail apart from the internal. 
Joel, ii. 13 ; Scindite corda vestra, &c. Isaiah, Iviii. 3, 4, &c. 

The love of God is enjoined in the whole of Deuteronomy. 
Deut. xxx. 19: "I call heaven and earth to record that I 
have set before you life and death, that you should choose 
life, and love God, and obey Him, for God is your life." 

That the Jews, for lack of that love, should be rejected 
for their offences, and the heathen chosen in their stead. 
Hosea, i. 10; Deut. xxxii. 20. "I will hide myself from 
them in view of their latter sins, for they are a froward 
generation without faith. They have moved me to jealousy 
with that which is not God, and I will move them to jeal- 
ousy with those which are not a people, and with an igno- 
rant and foolish nation." Isaiah, Ixv. i. 

That temporal goods are false, and that the true good is 
to be united to God. Psalm, cxliii. 15. 

That their feasts are displeasing to God. Amos, v. 21. 

That the sacrifices of the Jews displeased God. Isaiah, 
Ixvi. 1-3; i. II; Jer., vi. 20; David, Miserere. — Even on the 
part of the good, Expectavi. Psalm xlix. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 
and 14. 

That He has established them only for their hardness. 
Micah, admirably, vi.; i Kings, xv. 22; Hosea, vi. 6. 

That the sacrifices of the Gentiles will be accepted of 
God, and that God will take no pleasure in the sacrifices 
of the Jews. Malachi, i. li. 

That God will make a new covenant with the Messiah, 
and the old will be annulled. Jer, xxxi. 31. Mandata non 
bona. Ejsek. 



204 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

That the old things will be forgotten. Isaiah, xliii. i8, 19; 
Ixv. 17, 18. 

That the Ark will no longer be remembered. Jer. iii. 15. 

That the temple should be rejected. Jer, vii. 12, 13, 14. 

That the sacrifices should be rejected, and othe^r pure 
sacrifices established. Malachi, 1. 11. 

That the order of Aaron's priesthood should be rejected, 
and that of Melchizedek introduced by the Messiah. Ps. 
Dixit Dominus. 

That this priesthood should be eternal. Ibid, 

That Jerusalem should be rejected, and Rome admitted^ 
Ps. Dixit Dominus. 

That the name of the Jews should be rejected, and a new 
name given. Isaiah, Ixv. 15. 

That this last name should be more excellent than that 
of the Jews, and eternal. Isaiah, Ivi. 5 

That the Jews should be without prophets (Amos), with- 
out a king, without princes, without sacrifice, without an 
idol. 

That the Jews should nevertheless always remain a peo* 
pie. Jer, xxxi. 36. 

611 

Republic. — The Christian Republic — and even the Jewish 
—has only had God for ruler, as Philo the Jew notices, 
On Monarchy. 

When they fought, it was for God only; their chief hope 
was in God only; they considered their towns as belonging 
to God only, and kept them for God. I Chron. xix. 13. 

612 

Gen. xvii. 7. Statuam pactum meiim inter me et te foedere 
sempiterno ut sim Deus tiius. 
9. Et tu ergo custodies pactum meum. 

613 

Perpetuity. — That religion has always existed on earth, 
which consists in believing that man has fallen from a 
State of glory and of communion with God into a state of 



PERPETUITY 20S 

sorrow, penitence, and estrangement from God, but that 
after this life we shall be restored by a Messiah who should 
have come. All things have passed away, and this has 
endured, for which all things are. 

Men have in the first age of the world been carried 
away into every kind of debauchery, and yet there were 
saints, as Enoch, Lamech, and others, who waited patiently 
for the Christ promised from the beginning of the world. 
Noah saw the wickedness of men at its height; and he 
was held worthy to save the world in his person, by the 
hope of the Messiah of whom he was the type. Abraham 
was surrounded by idolaters, when God made known to him 
the mystery of the Messiah, whom he welcomed from afar. 
In the time of Isaac and Jacob abomination was spread 
over all the earth; but these saints lived in faith; and 
Jacob, dying and blessing his children, cried in a transport 
which made him break off his discourse, " I await, O my 
God, the Saviour whom Thou hast promised. Salutare 
Hmm expectabo, Domine" The Egyptians were infected 
both with idolatry and magic; the very people of God were 
led astray by their example. Yet Moses and others be- 
lieved Him whom they saw not, and worshipped Him, 
looking to the eternal gifts which He was preparing for 
them. 

The Greeks and Latins then set up false deities; the 
poets made a hundred different theologies, while the phi- 
losophers separated into a thousand different sects; and yet 
in the heart of Judaea there were always chosen men who 
foretold the coming of this Messiah, which was known 
to them alone. 

He came at length in the fulness of time, and time has 
since witnessed the birth of so many schisms and heresies, 
so many political revolutions, so many changes in all things ; 
yet this Church, which worships Him who has always been 
worshipped, has endured uninterruptedly. It is a wonder- 
ful, incomparable, and altogether divine fact that this re- 
ligion, which has always endured, has always been at- 
tacked. It has been a thousand times on the eve of uni- 
versal destruction, and every time it has been in that state, 
God has restored it by extraordinary acts of His power. 



206 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

This IS astonishing, as also that it has preserved itself with- 
out yielding to the will of tyrants. For it is not strange 
that a State endures, when its laws are sometimes made to 
give way to necessity, but that « « * (See the passage 
indicated in Montaigne.) 

614 

States would perish if they did not often make their laws 
give way to necessity. But religion has never suffered this, 
or practised it. Indeed there must be these compromises, 
or miracles. It is not strange to be saved by yielding, and 
this is not strictly self-preservation; besides, in the end 
they perish entirely. None has endured a thousand years. 
But the fact that this religion has always maintained itself, 
inflexible as it is, proves its divinity. 

Whatever may be said, it must be admitted that the Chris- 
tian religion has something astonishing in it. Some will 
say, ** This is because you were born in it.*' Far from it; 
I stiffen myself against it for this very reason, for fear 
this prejudice bias me. But although I am born in it, I can- 
not help finding it so. 

616 

Perpetuity. — The Messiah has always been believed in. 
The tradition from Adam was still fresh in Noah and in 
Moses. Since then the prophets have foretold him, while 
at the same time foretelling other things, which, being from 
time to time fulfilled in the sight of men, showed the truth 
of their mission, and consequently that of their promises 
touching the Messiah. Jesus Christ performed miracles, 
and the Apostles also, who converted all the heathen; and 
all the prophecies being thereby fulfilled, the Messiah is for 
ever proved. 

617 

Perpetuity. — Let us consider that since the beginning ol 
the world the expectation or worship of the Messiah ha$ 



PERPETUITY W9 

existed uninterruptedly; that there have been found men, 
who said that God had revealed to them that a Redeemer 
was to be born, who should save His people; that Abraham 
came afterwards, saying that he had had a revelation that 
the Messiah was to spring from him by a son, whom he 
should have; that Jacob declared that, of his twelve sons, 
the Messiah would spring from Judah; that Moses and the 
prophets then came to declare the time and tht manner 
of His coming ; that they said their law was only temporary 
till that of the Messiah, that it should endure till then, but 
that the other should last for ever; that thus either their 
law, or that of the Messiah, of which it was the promise, 
would be always upon the earth ; that, in fact, it has always 
endured; that at last Jesus Christ came with all the circum- 
stances foretold. This is wonderful. 



618 

This is positive fact While all philosophers separate 
into different sects, there is found in one comer of the 
world the most ancient people in it» declaring that all 
the world is in error, that God has revealed to them the 
truth, that they will always exist on the earth. In fact, 
all other sects come to an end, this one still endures, and 
has done so for four thousand years. 

They declare that they hold from their ancestors that 
man has fallen from communion with God, and is entirely 
estranged from God, but that He has promised to redeem 
them; that this doctrine shall always exist on the earth; 
that their law has a double signification ; that during sixteen 
hundred years they have had people, whom they believed 
prophets, foretelling both the time and the manner; that 
four hundred years after they were scattered everywhere, 
because Jesus Christ was to be everywhere announced ; that 
Jesus Christ came in the manner, and at the time foretold; 
that the Jews itiave since been scattered abroad under a 
curscj and nevertheless still exist 



an PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

619 

I see the Christian religion founded upon a preceding 
religion, and this is what I find as a fact. 

I do not here speak of the miracles of Moses, of Jesus 
Christ, and of the Apostles, because they do not at first 
seem convincing, and because I only wish here to put in 
evidence all those foundations of the Christian religion 
which are beyond doubt, and which cannot be called in 
question by any person whatsoever. It is certain that we 
see in many places of the world a peculiar people, separated 
from all other peoples of the world, and called the Jewish 
people. 

I see then a crowd of religions in many parts of the 
world and in all times; but their morality cannot please me, 
nor can their proofs convince me. Thus I should equally 
have rejected the religion of Mahomet and of China, of the 
ancient Romans and of the Egyptians, for the sole reason, 
that none having more marks of truth than another, nor 
anything which should necessarily persuade me, reason 
cannot incline to one rather than the other. 

But, in thus considering this changeable and singular va- 
riety of morals and beliefs at different times, I find in one 
corner of the world a peculiar people, separated from all 
other peoples on earth, the most ancient of all, and whose 
histories are earlier by many generations than the most 
ancient which we possess. 

I find then this great and numerous people, sprung from 
a single man, who worship one God, and guide themselves by 
a law which they say that they obtained from His own 
hand. They maintain that they are the only people in 
the world to whom God has revealed His mysteries; that 
all men are corrupt and in disgrace with God; that they 
are all abandoned to their senses and their own imagination, 
whence come the strange errors and continual changes 
which happen among them, both of religions and of morals, 
whereas they themselves remain firm in their conduct; but 
that God will not leave other nations in this darkness for 
ever; that there will come a Saviour for all; that they are 
in the world to announce Him to men; that they are ex- 



PERPETUITY 208 

pressly formed to be forerunners and heralds of this great 
event, and to summon all nations to join with them in the 
expectation of this Saviour. 

To meet with this people is astonishing to me, and seems 
to me worthy of attention. I look at the law which they 
boast of having obtained from God, and I find it admirable. 
It is the first law of all, and is of such a kind that, even 
before the term law was in currency among the Greeks, it 
had, for nearly a thousand years earlier, been uninter- 
ruptedly accepted and observed by the Jews. I likewise 
think it strange that the first law of the world happens to 
be the most perfect; so that the greatest legislators have 
borrowed their laws from it, as is apparent from the law of 
the Twelve Tables at Athens, afterwards taken by the 
Romans, and as it would be easy to prove, if Josephus and 
others had not sufficiently dealt with this subject. 



620 

Advantages of the Jezvlsh people. — In this search tlie 
Jewish people at once attract my attention by the number 
of wonderful and singular facts which appear about them« 

I first see that they are a people wholly composed of 
brethren, and whereas all others are formed by the assem- 
blage of an infinity of families, this, though so wonder- 
fully fruitful, has all sprung from one man alone, and, 
being thus all one flesh, and members one of another, they 
constitute a powerful state of one family. This is unique. 

This family, or people, is the most ancient within human 
knowledge, a fact which seems to me to inspire a peculiar 
veneration for it, especially in view of our present inquiry; 
since if God has from all time revealed Himself to men, 
it is to these we must turn for knowledge of the tradition. 

This people is not eminent solely by their antiquity, but 
is also singular by their duration, which has always con- 
tinued from their origin till now. For whereas the nations 
of Greece and of Italy, of Lacedasmon, of Athens and of 
Rome, and others who came long after, have long since 
perished, these ever remain, and in spite of the endeavours 
of many powerful kings who have a hundred times tried 



210 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

to destroy them, as their historians testify, and as it is 
easy to conjecture from the natural order of things during 
so long a space of years, they have nevertheless been pre- 
served (and this preservation has been foretold) ; and ex- 
tending from the earliest times to the latest, their history 
comprehends in its duration all our histories [which it pre- 
ceded by a long time]. 

The law by which this people is governed is at once the 
most ancient law in the world, the most perfect, and the 
only one which has been always observed without a break 
in a state. This is what Josephus admirably proves, against 
Apion, and also Philo the Jew, in different places where 
they point out that it is so ancient that the very name of 
law was only known by the oldest nation more than a 
thousand years afterwards; so that Homer, who has written 
the history of so many states, has never used the term. 
And it is easy to judge of its perfection by simply reading 
it; for we see that it has provided for all things with so 
great wisdom, equity and judgment, that the most ancient 
legislators, Greek and Roman, having had some knowledge 
of it, have borrowed from it their principal laws; this is 
evident from what are called the Twelve Tables, and from 
the other proofs which Josephus gives. 

But this law is at the same time the severest and strictest 
of all in respect to their religious worship, imposing on this 
people, in order to keep them to their duty, a thousand pecu- 
liar and painful observances, on pain of death. Whence it 
is very astonishing that it has been constantly preserved 
during many centuries b}^ a people, rebellious and impatient 
as this one was; while all other states have changed their 
laws from time to time, although these were far more 
lenient. 

The book which contains this law, the first of all, is itself 
the most ancient book in the world, those of Homer, Hesicd, 
and others, being six or seven hundred years later. 



621 

The creation and the deluge being past, and God no 
longer requiring to destroy the world, nor to create it anew. 



PERPETUITY 211 

nor to give such great signs of Himself, He began to estab- 
lish a people on the earth, purposely formed, who were to 
last until the coming of the people whom the Messiah 
should fashion by His spirit. 

622 

The creation of the world beginning to be distant, God 
provided a single contemporary historian, and appointed 
a whole people as guardians of this book, in order that 
this history might be the most authentic in the world, and 
that all men might thereby learn a fact so necessary to 
know, and which could only be known through that means. 

623 

[Japhet begins the genealogy.] 

Joseph folds his arms, and prefers to keep silent. 

624 

Why should Moses make the lives of men so long, and 
their generations so few? 

Because it is not the length of years, but the multitude of 
generations, which renders things obscure. For truth is 
perverted only by the change of men. And yet he puts 
two things, the most memorable that were ever imagined, 
namely, the creation and the deluge, so near that we reach 
from one to the other. 

fes 

Shem^ who saw Lamech, who saw Adam, saw also Jacob, 
who saw those who saw Moses; therefore the deluge and 
the creation are true. This is conclusive among certain 
people who understand it rightly. 

626 

The longevity of the patriarchs, instead of causing the 
loss of past history, conduced, on the contrary, to its preser- 
vation. For the reason why we are sometimes insufficiently 



212 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

instructed in the history of our ancestors, is that we have 
never lived long with them, and that they are often dead 
before we have attained the age of reason. Now, when 
men lived so long, children lived long with their parents. 
They conversed long with them. But what else could be 
the subject of their talk save the history of their ancestors, 
since to that all history was reduced, and men did not 
study science or art, which now form a large part of daily 
conversation? We see also that in these days tribes took 
particular care to preserve their genealogies. 



^2^ 

I believe that Joshua was the first of God^s people to have 
this name, as Jesus Christ was the last of God's people. 



628 

Antiquity of the Jews. — What a difference there is be- 
tween one book and another ! I am not astonished that the 
Greeks made the Iliad, nor the Egyptians and the Chinese 
their histories. 

We have only to see how this originates. These fabulous 
historians are not contemporaneous with the facts about 
which they write. Homer composes a romance, which he 
gives out as such, and which is received as such ; for nobody 
doubted that Troy and Agamemnon no more existed than 
did the golden apple. Accordingly he did not think of 
making a history, but solely a book to amuse; he is the 
only writer of his time; the beauty of the work has made 
it last, every one learns it and talks of it, it is necessary 
to know it, and each one knows it by heart. Four hundred 
years afterwards the witnesses of these facts are no longer 
alive, no one knows of his own knowledge if it be a fable 
or a history; one has only learnt it from his ancestors, 
and this can pass for truth. 

Every history which is not contemporaneous, as the books 
of the Sibyls and Trismegistus, and so many others which 
have been believed by the world, are false, and found to be 



PERPETUITY 213 

false in the course of time. It is not so with contempora- 
neous writers. 

There is a great difference between a book which an 
individual writes, and publishes to a nation, and a book 
which itself creates a nation. We cannot doubt that the book 
is as old as the people. 

629 

Josephus hides the shame of his nation. 
Moses does not hide his own shame. 
Quis mihi det tit omncs prophetentf * 
He was weary of the multitude. 

630 

The sincerity of the Jews. — IMaccabees, after they had no 
more prophets; the Masorah, since Jesus Christ. 

This book will be a testimony for you. 

Defective and final letters. 

Sincere against their honour, and dying for it; this has 
no example in the world, and no root in nature, 

631 

Sincerity of the Jews. — They preserve lovingly and care- 
fully the book in which Moses declares that they have been 
all their life ungrateful to God, and that he knows they 
will be still more so after his death; but that he calls 
heaven and earth to witness against them, and that he has 
[taught] them enough. 

He declares that God, being angry with them, shall at 
last scatter them among all the nations of the earth; that 
as they have offended Him by worshipping gods who were 
not their God, so He will provoke them by calling a people 
who are not His people ; that He desires that all His words 
be preserved for ever, and that His book be placed in the 
Ark of the Covenant to serve for ever as a witness against 
them. 

Isaiah says the same thing, xxx. 
* Numbers, xL 29. 



214 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

632 

On Esdras. — The story that the books were burnt with 
the temple proved false by Maccabees : " Jeremiah gave them 
the law." 

The story that he recited the whole by heart. Josephus 
and Esdras point out that he read the hook. Baronius, Ann., 
p. 180: Nullus penitus Hebrceorum antiquorum reperitur qui 
tradiderit libros periisse et per Esdram esse restitutos, nisi 
in IV. Esdrce* 

The story that he changed the letters. 

Philo, in Vita Moysis: Ilia lingua ac character quo anti' 
quitus scripta est lex sic permansit usque ad LXX.' 

Josephus says that the Law was in Hebrew when it was 
translated by the Seventy. 

Under Antiochus and Vespasian, when they wanted to 
abolish the books, and when there was no prophet, they 
could not do so. And under the Babylonians, when no 
persecution had been made, and when there were so many 
prophets, would they have let them be burnt? 

Josephus laughs at the Greeks who would not bear . . . 

Tertullian. — Perinde potuit aholefactam earn violentia 
cataclysmi in spiritu rursus reformare, quemadmodum et 
Hierosolymis Babylonia expugnatione deletis, omne insfru' 
mentum Judaicce literatures per Esdram constat restaura* 
turn.* 

He says that Noah could as easily have restored in spirit 
the book of Enoch, destroyed by the Deluge, as Esdras 
could have restored the Scriptures lost during the Captivity. 

(^£09) ^v rj in} Na^ouxoSovoffop ai^fxaXwffia rod Xaoo, dia- 
^OapstffSiv Twv )'pa<pa}v . , , ivitcveoas EffUpa rtS UpsX ix Tij? 
<pu^^9 Aeui rou^ r&v itpoyeyovdrtDu npofpyjraiv itdvra<; dvard^affdat 
Xdyoo^y xai dnoxaTa(TT^(Tat t& Xa<p rijv dtd Mwoffiux; votxoOefTiav.* 
He alleges this to prove that it is not incredible that the 
Seventy may have explained the holy Scriptures with that 

•"Nothing is found within the ancient Hebrew writincs which recorded 
that the books perished and were restored through Esdras, except in 
Esdras, IV." 

•"The same language and character in which the Law was written m 
ancient times remained till the Septuagiat.** 

* Tertullian, De cultu femin., ii. 3. 

*£us€bius. Hist, lib., v.» c & 



PERPETUITY tlS 

uniformity which we admire in them. And he took that 
from Saint Irenaeus. 

Saint Hilary, in his preface to the Psalms, says that 
Esdras arranged the Psalms in order. 

The origin of this tradition comes from the 14th chapter 
of the fourth book of Esdras. Deus glorificatus est, et 
Scriptures vere divines credited sunt, omnibus eandem et 
eisdem verbis et eisdem nominibus recitantibus ab initio usque 
ad finem, uti et press entes gentes cognoscerent quoniam per 
inspirationem Dei interpretatce sunt Scriptures et non esset 
mirabile Deum hoc in eis operatum: quando in ea captivitate 
populi quce facta est a Nabuchodonosor, corruptis scripturis 
et post 70 annos Judceis descendentibits in regionem suam, 
et post deinde temporibus Artaxercis Persarum regis, in- 
spiravit Esdrce sacerdoti tribiis Levi prceteritoriim propheta- 
rum omnes rememorare sermones, et restituere populo earn 
legem quce data est per Moysen, 



633 

Against the story in Esdras, II. Maccab., ii. ; — ^Josephus 
Antiquities, II. i. — Cyrus took occasion from the prophecy 
of Isaiah to release the people. The Jews held their prop- 
erty in peace under Cyrus in Babylon; hence they could 
well have the Law. 

Josephus, in the whole history of Esdras, does not say one 
word about this restoration. — ^11. Kings, xvii. 27. 



634 

If the story in Esdras is credible, then it must be be- 
lieved that the Scripture is Holy Scripture ; for this story is 
based only on the authority of those who assert that of the 
Seventy, which shows that the Scripture is holy. 

Therefore if this account be true, we have what we want 
therein; if not, we have it elsewhere. And thus those 
who would ruin the truth of our religion, founded on 
Moses, establish it by the same authority by which they 
attack it. So by this providence it still exists. 



216 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

635 

Chronology of Rabbinism. (The citations of pages are 
from the book Pugio.) 

Page 27. R. Hakadosch (anno 200), author of the 
Mischna, or vocal law, or second law. 

Commentaries on the Mischna (anno 340) : The one 
Siphra. 

Barajetot. 

Talmud Hierosol, 

Tosiphtot. 

Bereschit Rabah, by R. Osaiah Rabah, commentary on the 
Mischna. 

Bereschit Rabah, Bar Naconi, are subtle and pleasant dis- 
courses, historical and theological. This same author wrote 
the books called Rabot. 

A hundred years after the Talmud Hierosol, 440 a. d, 
was composed the Babylonian Talmud, by R. Ase, by the 
universal consent of all the Jews, who are necessarily 
obliged to observe all that is contained therein. 

The addition of R. Ase is called the Gemara, that is to say, 
the " commentary *' on the Mischna. And the Talmud in- 
cludes together the Mischna and the Gemara. 

636 

// does not indicate indifference: Malachi, Isaiah. 
Is., Si volumus, &c. 
In quacumque die, 

637 

Prophecies. — ^The sceptre was not interrupted by the cap- 
tivity in Babylon, because the return was promised and fore- 
told. 

638 

Proofs of Jesus Christ. — Captivity, with the assurance of 
deliverance within seventy years, was not real captivity. 
But now they are captives without any hope. 

God has promised them that even though He should scat- 



PERPETUITY 217 

ter them to the ends of the earth, nevertheless if they were 
faithful to His law, He would assemble them together again. 
They are very faithful to it, and remain oppressed. 

639 
When Nebuchadnezzar carried away the people, for fear 
they should believe that the sceptre had departed from 
Judah, they were told beforehand that they would be there 
for a short time, and that they would be restored. They 
were always consoled by the prophets; and their kings 
continued. But the second destruction is without promise 
of restoration, without prophets, without kings, without 
consolation, without hope, because the sceptre is taken away 
for ever. 

640 

It is a wonderful thing, and worthy of particular at- 
tention, to see this Jewish people existing so many years 
in perpetual misery, it being necessary as a proof of Jesus 
Christ, both that they should exist to prove Him, and that 
they should be miserable because they crucified Him; and 
though to be miserable and to exist are contradictory, they 
nevertheless still exist in spite of their misery. 

641 

They are visibly a people expressly created to serve as a 
witness to the Messiah (Isaiah, xliii. 9; xliv. 8). They 
keep the books, and love them, and do not understand them. 
And all this was foretold; that God's judgments are en* 
trusted to them, but as a sealed book. 



SECTION X 
Typology 

642 

PROOF of the two Testaments at once. — ^To prove the 
two at one stroke, we need only see if the prophecies 
in one are fulfilled in the other. To examine the 
prophecies, we must understand them. For if we believe they 
have only one meaning, it is certain that the Messiah has 
not come; but if they have two meanings, it is certain that 
He has come in Jesus Christ. 

The whole problem then is to know if they have two 
meanings. 

That the Scripture has two meanings, which Jesus Christ 
and the Apostles have given, is shown by the following 
proofs: 

1. Proof by Scripture itself. 

2. Proof by the Rabbis. Moses Maimonides says that it 
has two aspects, and that the prophets have prophesied Jesus 
Christ only. 

3. Proof by the Kabbala. 

4. Proof by the mystical interpretation which the Rabbis 
themselves give to Scripture. 

5. Proof by the principles of the Rabbis, that there are 
two meanings; that there are two advents of the Messiah, a 
glorious and humiliating one, according to their desert ; that 
the prophets have prophesied of the Messiah only — the Law 
is not eternal, but must change at the coming of the Messiah 
— that then they shall no more remember the Red Sea; that 
the Jews and the Gentiles shall be mingled. 

[6. Proof by the key which Jesus Christ and the Apostles 
give us.] 

228 



TYPOLOGY 219 

643 

Isaiah, li. The Red Sea an image of the Redemption. Ut 
sciatis quod films hominis hahet potestatem remittendi pec- 
cata, Hbi dico ;* Surge, God, wishing to show that He could 
form a people holy with an invisible holiness, and fill them 
with an eternal glory, made visible things. As nature is an 
image of grace. He has done in the bounties of nature what 
He would do in those of grace, in order that we might 
judge that He could make the invisible, since He made the 
visible excellently. 

Therefore He saved this people from the deluge; He has 
raised them up from Abraham, redeemed them from their 
enemies, and set them at rest. 

The object of God was not to save them from the deluge, 
and raise up a whole people from Abraham, only in order 
to bring them into a rich land. 

And even grace is only the type of glory, for it is not 
the ultimate end. It has been symbolised by the law, and 
itself symbolises [glory']. But it is the type of it, and the 
origin or cause. 

The ordinary life of men is like that of the saints. They 
all seek their satisfaction, and differ only in the object in 
which they place it ; they call those their enemies who hinder 
them, &c. God has then shown the power which He has of 
giving invisible blessings, by that which He has shown Him- 
self to have over things visible. 

644 

Types. — God, wishing to form for Himself an holy people, 
whom He should separate from all other nations, whom He 
should deliver from their enemies and should put into a 
place of rest, has promised to do so, and has foretold by 
His prophets the time and the manner of His coming. And 
yet, to confirm the hope of His elect. He has made them 
see it in an image through all time, without leaving them 
devoid of assurances of His power and of His will to save 
them. For, at the creation of man, Adam was the witness 

1 Mark, ii. 10, 11. 



220 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

and guardian of the promise of a Saviour, who should be 
born of woman, when men were still so near the creation 
that they could not have forgotten their creation and their 
fall. When those who had seen Adam were no longer in 
the world, God sent Noah whom He saved, and drowned 
the whole earth by a miracle which sufficiently indicated the 
power which He had to save the world, and the will which 
He had to do so, and to raise up from the seed of woman 
Him whom He had promised. This miracle was enough to 
confirm the hope of men. 

The memory of the deluge being so fresh among men, 
while Noah was still alive, God made promises to Abraham, 
and, while Shem was still living, sent Moses, &c. . . , 

645 
Types. — God, willing to deprive His own of perishable 
blessings, created the Jewish people in order to show that 
this was not owing to lack of power, 

646 

The Synagogue did not perish, because it was a type. 
But because it was only a type, it fell into servitude. The 
type existed till the truth came, in order that the Church 
should be always visible, either in the sign which promised 
it, or in substance. 

647 

That the law was figurative. 

648 

Two errors: i. To take everything literally. 2. To take 
everything spiritually. 

649 
To speak against too greatly figurative language. 

650 

There are some types clear and demonstrative, but others 
svhich seem somewhat far-fetched, and which convince 



TYPOLOGY 221 

only those who are already persuaded. These are like the 
Apocalyptics. But the difference is that they have none 
which are certain, so that nothing is so unjust as to claim 
that theirs are as well founded as some of ours; for they 
have none so demonstrative as some of ours. The compari- 
son is unfair. We must not put on the same level, and 
confound things, because they seem to agree in one point, 
while they are so different in another. The clearness in 
divine things requires us to revere the obscurities in them. 
[It is like men, who employ a certain obscure language 
among themselves. Those who should not understand it, 
would understand only a foolish meaning.] 

651 

Extravagances of the Apocalyptics, Preadamites, Millen' 
arians, &c. — He who would base extravagant opinions on 
Scripture, will, for example, base them on this. It is said 
that " this generation shall not pass till all these things be 
fulfilled." Upon that I will say that after that generation 
will come another generation, and so on ever in succession. 

Solomon and the King are spoken of in the second book 
of Chronicles, as if they were two different persons. I will 
say that they were two. 

652 

Particular Types. — A double law, double tables of the law, 
a double temple, a double captivity. 

653 
Types. — The prophets prophesied by symbols of a girdle, 
a beard and burnt hair, &c. 

654 

Difference between dinner and supper. 

In God the word does not differ from the intention, for 
He is true; nor the word from the effect, for He is power- 
ful; nor the means from the effect, for He is wise. Bern., 
lilt, sermo in Missam. 



222 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Augustine, de Civit. Dei, v. lo. This rule is general. 
God can do everything, except those things, which if He 
could do, He would not be almighty, as dying, being deceived, 
lying, &c. 

Many Evangelists for the confirmation of the truth: their 
difference useful. 

The Eucharist after the Lord's Supper. Truth after the 
type. 

The ruin of Jerusalem, a type of the ruin of the world, 
forty years after the death of Jesus. " I know not," as a 
man, or as an ambassador (Mark xiii. 32). 

Jesus condemned by the Jews and the Gentiles. 

The Jews and the Gentiles typified by the two sons. Aug. 
de Civ. XX. 29. 

655 

The six ages, the six Fathers of the six ages, the six 
wonders at the beginning of the six ages, the six mornings 
at the beginning of the six ages. 

656 

Adam forma futuri^ The six days to form the one, the 
six ages to form the other. The six days, which Moses 
represents for the formation of Adam, are only the picture 
of the six ages to form Jesus Christ and the Church. If 
Adam had not sinned, and Jesus Christ had not come, there 
had been only one covenant, only one age of men, and the 
creation would have been represented as accomplished at one 
single time. 

657 
Types. — The Jewish and Egyptian peoples were plainly 
foretold by the two individuals whom Moses met ; the Egyp- 
tian beating the Jew, Moses avenging him and killing the 
Egyptian, and the Jew being ungrateful. 

658 

The symbols of the Gospel for the state of the sick soul 
are sick bodies ; but because one body cannot be sick enough 

* Romans, v. 14. 



TYPOLOGY 223 

to express it well, several have been needed. Thus there are 
the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the paralytic, the dead Lazarus, 
the possessed. All this crowd is in the sick soul. 



659 

Types. — To show that the Old Testament is only figura- 
tive, and that the prophets understood by temporal blessings 
other blessings, this is the proof : — 

First, that this would be unworthy of God. 

Secondly, that their discourses express very clearly the 
promise of temporal blessings, and that they say nevertheless 
that their discourses are obscure, and that their meaning will 
not be understood. Whence it appears that this secret mean- 
ing was not that which they openly expressed, and that con- 
sequently they meant to speak of other sacrifices, of another 
deliverer, &c. They say that they will be understood only 
in the fulness of time (Jer. xxx. ult.). 

The third proof is that their discourses are contra- 
dictory, and neutralise each other; so that if we think that 
they did not mean by the words " law " and " sacrifice " any- 
thing else than that of Moses, there is a plain and gross con- 
tradiction. Therefore they meant something else, sometimes 
contradicting themselves in the same chapter. Now to un- 
derstand the meaning of an author . . . 



660 

Lust has become natural to us, and has made our second 
nature. Thus there are two natures in us — the one good, the 
other bad. Where is God? Where you are not, and the 
kingdom of God is within you. The Rabbis. 



661 

Penitence, alone of all these mysteries, has been manifestly 
declared to the Jews, and by Saint John, the Forerunner; 
and then the other mysteries ; to indicate that in each man, as 
in the entire world, this order must be observed. 



224 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



662 

The carnal Jews understood neither the greatness nor the 
humiliation of the Messiah foretold in their prophecies. 
They misunderstood Him in His foretold greatness, as when 
He said that the Messiah should be lord of David, though 
his son, and that He was before Abraham, who had seen 
Him. They did not believe Him so great as to be eternal, and 
they likewise misunderstood Him in His humiliation and in 
His death. "The Messiah," said they, " abideth for ever, 
and this man says that he shall die." Therefore they be- 
lieved Him neither mortal nor eternal; they only sought in 
Him for a carnal greatness. 



663 

Typical. — Nothing is so like charity as covetousness, and 
nothing is so opposed to it. Thus the Jews, full of posses- 
sions which flattered their covetousness, were very like 
Christians, and very contrary. And by this means they had 
the two qualities which it was necessary they should have, 
to be very like the Messiah to typify Him, and very contrary 
not to be suspected witnesses. 



664 

Typical. — God made use of the lust of the Jews to make 
them minister to Jesus Christ, [who brought the remedy for 
their lust]. 

665 

Charity is not a figurative precept. It is dreadful to say 
that Jesus Christ, who came to take away types in order 
to establish the truth, came only to establish the type of char- 
ity, in order to take away the existing reality which was there 
before. 

" If the light be darkness, how great is that darkness ! " 



TYPOLOGY 225 

666 

Fascination. Somnum suum^ Figura hujus mundi* 
The Eucharist. Comedes panem tunm.^ Panem nostrum!^ 
Inimici Dei terram lingent.'' Sinners lick the dust, that is 
to say, love earthly pleasures. 

The Old Testament contained the types of future joy, and 
the New contains the means of arriving at it. The types 
w^ere of joy; the means of penitence; and nevertheless the 
Paschal Lamb was eaten with bitter herbs, cum amaritudi' 
nibiis.^ 

Singularis sum ego donee transeam.^ — Jesus Christ before 
His death was almost the only martyr. 

667 
Typical — The expressions, sword, shield. Potentissime. 



668 

We are estranged, only by departing from charity. Our 
prayers and our virtues are abominable before God, if they 
are not the prayers and the virtues of Jesus Christ. And 
our sins will never be the object of [mercy], but of the 
justice of God, if they are not [those of] Jesus Christ. He 
has adopted our sins, and has [admitted] us into union [with 
Him], for virtues are [His own, and] sins are foreign to 
Him; while virtues [are] foreign to us, and our sins are 
our own. 

Let us change the rule which we have hitherto chosen 
for judging what is good. We had our own will as our 
rule. Let us now take the will of [God] ; all that He wills is 
good and right to us, all that He does not will is [bad]. 

All that God does not permit is forbidden. Sins are for- 
bidden by the general declaration that God has made, that 
He did not allow them. Other things which He has left 
without general prohibition, and which for that reason are 
said to be permitted, are nevertheless not always permitted. 

3 Psalms, Ixxvi. 5. * i Cor., vii. 31. ^ Dg^^t,^ vii;_ g « Luke, xi. 3. 

'Psalms, Ixxii. 9. ^ Exodus, xii. 8. » Psalms, cxli. 10. 

HO XLVIII (h) 



226 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

For when God removes some one of them from us, and when, 
by the event, which is a manifestation of the will of 
God, it appears that God does not will that we should have 
a thing, that is then forbidden to us as sin; since the will 
of God is that we should not have one more than another. 
There is this sole difference between these two things, that 
it is certain that God will never allow sin, while it is not 
certain that He will never allow the other. But so long 
as God does not permit it, we ought to regard it as sin; so 
long as the absence of God's will, which alone is all goodness 
and all justice, renders it unjust and wrong. 

669 

To change the type, because of our weakness. 



670 

Types. — The Jews had grown old in these earthly thoughts, 
that God loved their father Abraham, his flesh and what 
sprung from it; that on account of this He had multiplied 
them, and distinguished them from all other nations, without 
allowing them to intermingle ; that when they were languish- 
ing in Egypt, He brought them out with all these great 
signs in their favour; that He fed them with manna in the 
desert, and led them into a very rich land; that He gave 
them kings and a well-built temple, in order to offer up 
beasts before Him, by the shedding of whose blood they 
should be purified ; and that at last He was to send them the 
Messiah to make them masters of all the world, and fore- 
told the time of His coming. 

The world having grown old in these carnal errors, Jesus 
Christ came at the time foretold, but not with the expected 
glory; and thus men did not think it was He. After His 
death, Saint Paul came to teach men that all these things 
had happened in allegory; that the kingdom of God did not 
consist in the flesh, but In the spirit; that the enemies of men 
were not the Babylonians, but the passions; that God de- 
lighted not in temples made with hands, but in a pure and 
contrite heart; that the circumcision of the body was unprof- 



TYPOLOGY 227 

itable, but that of the heart was needed; that Moses had 
not given them the bread from heaven, &c. 

But God, not having desired to reveal these things to 
this people who were unworthy of them, and having never- 
theless desired to foretell them, in order that they might be 
believed, foretold the time clearly, and expressed the things 
sometimes clearly, but very often in figures, in order that 
those who loved symbols might consider them, and those who 
loved what was symbolized might see it therein. 

All that tends not to charity is figurative. 

The sole aim of the Scripture is charity. 

All which tends not to the sole end is the type of it. 
For since there is only one end, all which does not lead to 
it in express terms is figurative. 

God thus varies that sole precept of charity to satisfy 
our curiosity, which seeks for variety, by that variety which 
still leads us to the one thing needful. For one thing alone 
is needful, and we love variety; and God satisfies both 
by these varieties, which lead to the one thing needful. 

The Jews have so much loved the shadows, and have 
so strictly expected them, that they have misunderstood the 
reality, when it came in the time and manner foretold.. 

The Rabbis take the breasts of the Spouse for types, 
and all that does not express the only end they have, namely, 
temporal good. 

And Christians take even the Eucharist as a type of the 
glory at which they aim, 

671 

The Jews, who have been called to subdue nations and 
kings, have been the slaves of sin; and the Christians, whose 
calling has been to be servants and subjects, arc free children. 

A formal point, — When Saint Peter and the Apostles de- 
liberated about abolishing circumcision, where it was a ques- 
tion of acting against the law of God, they did not heed the 
prophets, but simply the reception of the Holy Spirit in the 
persons uncircumcised. 



?28 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

They thought it more certain that God approved of those 
whom He filled with His Spirit, than it was that the law 
must be obeyed. They knew that the end of the law was 
only the Holy Spirit; and that thus, as men certainly had this 
without circumcision, it was not necessary. 

673 

Fac secundum exemplar quod tibi ostensum est in monte.^ 
— The Jewish religion then has been formed on its likeness 
to the truth of the Messiah; and the truth of the Messiah 
has been recognised by the Jewish religion, which was the 
type of it. 

Among the Jews the truth was only typified; in heaven it 
is revealed. 

In the Church it is hidden, and recognised by its resem- 
blance to the type. 

The type has been made according to the truth, and the 
truth has been recognised according to the type. 

Saint Paul says himself that people will forbid to marry, 
and he himself speaks of it to the Corinthians in a way 
which is a snare. For if a prophet has said the one, 
and Saint Paul had then said the other, he would have 
been accused. 

674 

Typical. — " Do all things according to the pattern which 
has been shown thee on the mount." On which Saint Paul 
says that the Jews have shadowed forth heavenly things. 

675 
. . . And yet this Covenant, made to blind some and 
enlighten others, indicated in those very persons, whom it 
blinded, the truth which should be recognised by others. 
For the visible blessings which they received from God were 
so great and so divine, that He indeed appeared able to give 
them those that are invisible, and a Messiah. 

For nature is an image of grace, and visible miracles are 
images of the invisible. Ut sciatis . . . tibi dico: Siirge.^^ 
w Exodus, XXV. 40. " Matt., ix. 6. 



TYPOLOGY 229 

Isaiah says that Redemption will be as the passage of the 
Red Sea. 

God has then shown by the deliverance from Egypt, and 
from the sea, by the defeat of kings, by the manna, by the 
whole genealogy of Abraham, that He was able to save, to 
send down bread from heaven, &c. ; so that the people 
hostile to Him are the type and the representation of the 
very Messiah whom they know not, &c. 

He has then taught us at last that all these things were 
only types, and what is " true freedom," a " true Israelite," 
" true circumcision," " true bread from heaven," &c. 

In these promises each one finds what he has most at 
heart, temporal benefits or spiritual, God or the creatures; 
but with this difference, that those who therein seek the 
creatures find them, but with many contradictions, with a 
prohibition against loving them, with the command to wor- 
ship God only, and to love Him only, which is the same 
thing, and, finally, that the Messiah came not for them; 
whereas those who therein seek God find Him, without any 
contradiction, with the command to love Him only, and that 
the Messiah came in the time foretold, to give them the 
blessings which they ask. 

Thus the Jews had miracles and prophecies, which they 
saw fulfilled, and the teaching of their law was to worship 
and love God only; it was also perpetual. Thus it had all 
the marks of the true religion ; and so it was. But the Jewish 
teaching must be distinguished from the teaching of the 
Jewish law. Now the Jewish teaching was not true, al- 
though it had miracles and prophecy and perpetuity, because 
it had not this other point of worshipping and loving God 
only. 

The veil, which is upon these books for the Jews, is there 
also for evil Christians, and for all who do not hate them- 
selves. 

But how well disposed men are to understand them and 
to know Jesus Christ, when they truly hate themselves ! 



230 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

A type conveys absence and presence, pleasure and pain. 
A cipher has a double meaning, one clear, and one in 
which it is said that the meaning is hidden. 



678 

Types. — A portrait conveys absence and presence, pleasure 
and pain. The reality excludes absence and pain. 

To know if the law and the sacrifices are a reality or a 
type, we must see if the prophets, in speaking of these things, 
confined their view and their thought to them, so that they 
saw only the old covenant; or if they saw therein something 
else of which they were the representation, for in a portrait 
we see the thing figured. For this we need only examine 
what they say of them. 

When they say that it will be eternal, do they mean to 
speak of that covenant which they say will be changed; and 
so of the sacrifices, &c. ? 

A cipher has two meanings. When we find out an im- 
portant letter in which we discover a clear meaning, and 
in which it is nevertheless said that the meaning is veiled and 
obscure, that it is hidden, so that we might read the letter 
without seeing it, and interpret it without understanding it, 
what must we think but that here is a cipher with a double 
meaning, and the more so if we find obvious contradictions 
in the literal meaning? The prophets have clearly said that 
Israel would be always loved by God, and that the law 
would be eternal; and they have said that their meaning 
would not be understood, and that it was veiled. 

How greatly then ought we to value those who interpret 
the cipher, and teach us to understand the hidden meaning, 
especially if the principles which they educe are perfectly 
clear and natural ! This is what Jesus Christ did, and 
the Apostles. They broke the seal; He rent the veil, and 
revealed the spirit. They have taught us through this that 
the enemies of man are his passions; that the Redeemer 
would be spiritual, and His reign spiritual ; that there would 



TYPOLOGY 231 

be two advents, one in lowliness to humble the proud, the 
other in glory to exalt the humble ; that Jesus Christ would be 
both God and man. 

679 

Types. — Jesus Christ opened their mind to understand 
the Scriptures. 

Two great revelations are these, (i.) All things hap- 
pened to them in types : vere Israelites, vere liheri, true bread 
from Heaven. (2.) A God humbled to the Cross. It was 
necessary that Christ should suffer in order to enter into 
glory, " that He should destroy death through death." Two 
advents. 

680 

Types. — When once this secret is disclosed, it is impossible 
not to see it. Let us read the Old Testament in this light, 
and let us see if the sacrifices were real; if the fatherhood 
of Abraham was the true cause of the friendship of God; 
and if the promised land was the true place of rest. No. 
They are therefore types. Let us in the same way examine 
all those ordained ceremonies, all those commandments which 
are not of charity, and we shall see that they are types. 

All these sacrifices and ceremonies were then either types 
or nonsense. Now there are things clear, and too lofty, 
to be thought nonsense. 

To know if the prophets confined their view in the Old 
Testament, or saw therein other things. 

681 

Typical. — The key of the cipher. Veri adoratores.'"— 
Ecce agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi^^ 

682 

Is. i. 21. Change of good into evil, and the vengeance 
of God. Is. X. i; xxvi. 20; xxviii. i. Miracles: Is. xxxiii. 
9; xl. 17; xli. 26; xliii. 13. 

Jer. xi. 21 ; xv. 12 ; xvii. 9. Pravum est cor omnium et 
incrustabile ; quis cognoscet illiid? that is to say, Who can 

" John, iv. 23. ^8 John, i. 29. 



232 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

know all its evil? For it is already known to be wicked. 
Ego dominus, &c. — vii. 14. Faciam domui hide, &c. — Trust 
in external sacrifices — vii. 22. Quia non sum locutus, &c. 
Outward sacrifice is not the essential point — xi. 13. Secun- 
dum numerum, &c. A multitude of doctrines. 

Is. xliv. 20-24; liv. 8; Ixiii. 12-17; ^^^i. 17. Jer. ii.. 35; 
iv. 22-24; V. 4, 29-31 ; vi. 16; xxiii. 15-17. 

683 

Types. — The letter kills. All happened in types. Here is 
the cipher which Saint Paul gives us. Christ must suffer. 
An humiliated God. Circumcision of the heart, true fast- 
ing, true sacrifice, a true temple. The prophets have shown 
that all these must be spiritual. 

Not the meat which perishes, but that which does not 
perish. 

" Ye shall be free indeed." Then the other freedom was 
only a type of freedom. 

" I am the true bread from Heaven." 

684 

Contradiction. — We can only describe a good character 
by reconciling all contrary qualities, and it is not enough to 
keep up a series of harmonious qualities without reconciling 
contradictory ones. To understand the meaning of an author,. 
we must make all the contrary passages agree. 

Thus, to understand Scripture, we must have a meaning 
in which all the contrary passages are reconciled. It is 
not enough to have one which suits many concurring pas- 
sages; but it is necessary to have one which reconciles even 
contradictory passages. 

Every author has a meaning in which all the contradictory 
passages agree, or he has no meaning at all. We cannot 
affirm the latter of Scripture and the prophets; they un- 
doubtedly are full of good sense. We must then seek for a 
meaning which reconciles all discrepancies. 

The true meaning then is not that of the Jews; but in 
Jesus Christ all the contradictions are reconciled. 



TYPOLOGY 233 

"The Jews could not reconcile the cessation of the royalty 
and principality, foretold by Hosea, with the prophecy of 
Jacob. 

If we take the law, the sacrifices, and the kingdom as 
realities, we cannot reconcile all the passages. They must 
then necessarily be only 'types. We cannot even reconcile 
the passages of the same author, nor of the same book, 
nor sometimes of the same chapter, which indicates copiously 
what was the meaning of the author. As when Ezekiel, 
chap. XX., says that man will live by the commandments 
of God and will not live by them. 



685 

Types. — If the law and the sacrifices are the truth, it must 
please God, and must not displease Him. If they are types, 
they must \: i both pleasing and displeasing. 

Now in all the Scripture they are both pleasing and dis- 
pleasing. It is said that the law shall be changed; that the 
sacrifice shall be changed; that they shall be without law, 
without a prince, and without a sacrifice ; that a new covenant 
shall be made; that the law shall be renewed; that the 
precepts which they have received are not good; that their 
sacrifices are abominable; that God has demanded none of 
them. 

It is said, on the contrary, that the law shall abide for 
ever; that this covenant shall be for ever; that sacrifice 
shall be eternal; that the sceptre shall never depart from 
among them, because it shall not depart from them till the 
eternal King comes. 

Do all these passages indicate what is real? No. Do 
they then indicate what is typical? No, but what is either 
real or typical. But the first passages, excluding as they 
do reality, indicate that all this is only typical. 

All these passages together cannot be applied to reality; 
all can be said to be typical; therefore they are not spoken 
of reality, but of the type. 

Agnus occisus est ah origine mundi.^* A sacrificing judge. 

" Revel., xiii. 8. 



234 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

686 

Contradictions. — The sceptre till the Messiah, — without 
king or prince. 

The eternal law, — changed. 

The eternal covenant, — a new covenant. 

Good laws, — bad precepts. Ezekiel. 



687 

Types. — When the word of God, which is really true, 
is false literally, it is true spiritually. Sede a dextris meis:^* 
this is false literally, therefore it is true spiritually. 

In these expressions, God is spoken of after the manner 
of men; and this means nothing else but that the intention 
which men have in giving a seat at their right hand, God 
will have also. It is then an indication of the intention of 
God, not of His manner of carrying it out. 

Thus when it is said, '' God has received the odour of 
your incense, and will in recompense give you a rich land," 
that is equivalent to saying that the same intention which a 
man would have, who, pleased with your perfumes, should 
in recompense give you a rich land, God will have towards 
you, because you have had towards [Him] the same inten- 
tion as a man has towards him, to whom he presents per- 
fumes. So iratus est, a "jealous God," &c. For, the things 
of God being inexpressible, they cannot be spoken of other- 
wise, and the Church makes use of them even to-day : Quia 
confortavit seras, &c.^* 

It is not allowable to attribute to Scripture the meaning 
which it has not revealed to us that it has. Thus, to say 
that the closed mem" of Isaiah signifies six hundred, has not 
been revealed. It might be said that the final tsade and the 
he deiicientes may signify mysteries. But it is not allowable 
to say so, and still less to say this is the way of the philoso- 
pher's stone. But we say that the literal meaning is not the 
true meaning, because the prophets have themselves said so. 

15 Psalms, ex. i. 1^ Psalms, cxlvii. 13. 

" In allusion to certain features in Hebrew writing. 



TYPOLOGY 235 

688 

I do not say that the mem is mystical. 

689 

Moses {Dent, xxx.) promises that God will circumcise 
their heart to render them capable of loving Him. 

690 

One saying of David, or of Moses, as for instance that 
" God will circumcise the heart," enables us to judge of their 
spirit. If all their other expressions were ambiguous, and 
left us in doubt whether they were philosophers or Chris- 
tians, one saying of this kind would in fact determine all 
the rest, as one sentence of Epictetus decides the meaning of 
all the rest to be the opposite. So far ambiguity exists, but 
not afterwards. 

'691 

If one of two persons, who are telling silly stories, uses 
language with a double meaning, understood in his own 
circle, while the other uses it with only one meaning, any 
one not in the secret, who hears them both talk in this man- 
ner, will pass upon them the same judgment. But if after- 
wards, in the rest of their conversation one says angelic 
things, and the other always dull common-places, he will 
judge that the one spoke in mysteries, and not the other; the 
one having sufficiently shown that he is incapable of such 
foolishness, and capable of being mysterious ; and the other 
*hat he is incapable of mystery, and capable of foolishness. 

The Old Testament is a cipher. 

692 

There are some who see clearly that man has no other 
enemy than lust, which turns him from God, and not God; 
and that he has no other good than God, and not a rich land. 
Let those who believe that the good of man is in the flesh, 



236 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

and evil in what turns him away from sensual pleasures, 
[satiate] themselves with them, and [die] in them. But let 
those who seek God with all their heart, who are only 
troubled at not seeing Him, who desire only to possess Him, 
and have as enemies only those who turn them away from 
Him, who are grieved at seeing themselves surrounded and 
overwhelmed with such enemies, take comfort. I proclaim 
to them happy news. There exists a Redeemer for them. 
I shall show Him to them. I shall show that there is a God 
for them. I shall not show Him to others. I shall make 
them see that a Messiah has been promised, who should de- 
liver them from their enemies, and that One has come to 
free them from their iniquities, but not from their enemies. 

When David foretold that the Messiah would deliver His 
people from their enemies, one can believe that in the flesh 
these would be the Egyptians; and then I cannot show 
that the prophecy was fulfilled. But one can well believe 
also that the enemies would be their sins; for indeed the 
Egyptians were not their enemies, but their sins were so. 
This word, enemies, is therefore ambiguous. But if he says 
elsewhere, as he does, that He will deHver His people from 
their sins, as indeed do Isaiah and others, the ambiguity is 
removed, and the double meaning of enemies is reduced to 
the simple meaning of iniquities. For if he had sins in his 
mind, he could well denote them as enemies ; but if he thought 
of enemies, he could not designate them as iniquities. 

Now Moses, David, and Isaiah used the same terms. Who 
will say then that they have not the same meaning, and that 
David's meaning, which is plainly iniquities when he spoke 
of enemies, was not the same as [that of] Moses when speak- 
ing of enemies? 

Daniel (ix.) prays for the deliverance of the people 
from the captivity of their enemies. But he was thinking 
of sins, and to show this, he says that Gabriel came to tell 
him that his prayer was heard, and that there were only 
seventy weeks to wait, after which the people would be freed 
from iniquity, sin would have an end, and the Redeemer, the 
Holy of Holies, would bring eternal justice, not legal, but 
eternal. 



SECTION XI 

The Prophecies 

693 

WHEN I see the blindness and the wretchedness of 
man, when I regard the whole silent universe, and 
man without light, left to himself, and, as it were, 
lost in this corner of the universe, without knowing who has 
put him there, what he has come to do, what will become of 
him at death, and incapable of all knowledge, I become ter- 
rified, like a man who should be carried in his sleep to a 
dreadful desert island, and should awake without knowing 
where he is, and without means of escape. And thereupon 
I wonder how people in a condition so wretched do not fall 
into despair. I see other persons around me of a like nature. 
I ask them if they are better informed than I am. They tell 
me that they are not. And thereupon these wretched and 
lost beings, having looked around them, and seen some pleas- 
ing objects, have given and attached themselves to them. 
For my own part, I have not been able to attach myself to 
them, and, considering how strongly it appears that there is 
something else than what I see, I have examined whether this 
God has not left some sign of Himself. 

I see many contradictory religions, and consequently all 
false save one. Each wants to be believed on its own 
authority, and threatens unbelievers. I do not therefore 
believe them. Every one can say this ; every one can 
call himself a prophet. But I see the Christian religion 
wherein prophecies are fulfilled; and that is what every one 
cannot do. 

694 

And what crowns all this is prediction, so that it should 
not be said that it is chance which has done it. 

237 



238 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Whosoever, having only a week to live, will not find out 
that it is expedient to believe that all this is not a stroke 
of chance . . . 

Now, if the passions had no hold on us, a week and a 
hundred years would amount to the same thing. 

695 
Prophecies. — Great Pan is dead. 

696 

Susceperunf verbum cum omni aviditate, scrutantes Scrip- 
turas, si it a se hob event} 

697 

Prodita lege. — Impleta cerne. — Implenda collige.^ 

698 

We understand the prophecies only when we see the 
events happen. Thus the proofs of retreat, discretion, 
silence, &c., are proofs only to those who know and believe 
them. 

Joseph so internal in a law so external. 

Outward penances dispose to inward, as humiliations to 
humility. Thus the . . . 

699 

The synagogue has preceded the church; the Jews, the 
Christians. The prophets have foretold the Christians; Saint 
John, Jesus Christ. 

700 

It is glorious to see with the eyes of faith the history of 
Herod and of Caesar. 

701 

The zeal of the Jews for their law and their temple 

{Josephus, and Philo the Jew, ad Caium). What other 

people had such a zeal? It was necessary they should 
have it. 

1 Acts, xvii. ir. 

2 " Read what has been handed down. — Note what has been fulfilled. — 
Bring together what is to be fulfilled." 



THE PROPHECIES 239 

Jesus Christ foretold as to the time and the state of the 
world. Th* ruler taken from the thigh, and the fourth 
monarchy How lucky we are to see this light amidst this 
darkness ! 

How fine it is to see, with the eyes of faith, Darius and 
Cyrus, Alexander, the Romans, Pompey and Herod working, 
without la?owing it, for the glory of the Gospel ! 

702 

Zeal of the Jewish people for the law, especially after 
there were no more prophets. 

703 
While the prophets were for maintaining the law, the 
people were indifferent. But since there have been no more 
prophets, zeal has succeeded them. 

704 

The devil troubled the zeal of the Jews before Jesus 
Christ, because he would have been their salvation, but no^ 
since. 

The Jewish people scorned by the Gentiles; the Christian 
people persecuted. 

705 
Proof. — Prophecies with their fulfilment; what has pre- 
ceded and what has followed Jesus Christ. 

706 

The prophecies are the strongest proof of Jesus Christ. 
It is for them also that God has made most provision; for 
the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle existing 
since the birth of the Church to the end. So God has raised 
up prophets during sixteen hundred years, and, during four 
hundred years afterwards. He has scattered all these 
prophecies among all the Jews, who carried them into all 
parts of the world. Such was the preparation for the birth 
of Jesus Christ, and, as His Gospel was to be believed by 



240 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

all the world, it was not only necessary that there should be 
prophecies to make it believed, but that these prophecies 
should exist throughout the whole world, in order to make 
it embraced by the whole world. 



707 

But it was not enough that the prophecies should exist. 
It was necessary that they should be distributed throughout 
all places, and preserved throughout all times. And in 
order that this agreement might not be taken for an effect 
of chance, it was necessary that this should be foretold. 

It is far more glorious for the Messiah that the Jews 
should be the spectators, and even the instruments of His 
glory, besides that God had reserved them. 

708 

Prophecies. — The time foretold by the state of the Jewish 
people, by the state of the heathen, by the state of the 
temple, by the number of years. 

709 

One must be bold to predict the same thing in so many 
ways. It was necessary that the four idolatrous or pagan 
monarchies, the end of the kingdom of Judah, and the 
seventy weeks, should happen at the same time, and all this 
before the second temple was destroyed. 

710 

Prophecies. — If one man alone had made a book of pre- 
dictions about Jesus Christ, as to the time and the manner, 
and Jesus Christ had come in conformity to these prophecies, 
this fact would have infinite weight. 

But there is much more here. Here is a succession of 
men during four thousand years, who, constantly and with- 
out variation, come, one after another, to foretell this same 
event. Here is a whole people who announce it, and who 
have existed for four thousand years, in order to give cor- 



THE PROPHECIES 241 

porate testimony of the assurances which they have, and 
from which they cannot be diverted by whatever threats 
and persecutions people may make against them. This is 
far more important. 

711 

Predictions of particular things. — They were strangers in 
Egypt, without any private property, either in that country 
or elsewhere. [There was not the least appearance, either 
of the royalty which had previously existed so long, or of 
that supreme council of seventy judges which they called 
the Sanhedrin, and which, having been instituted by Moses, 
lasted to the time of Jesus Christ. All these things were as 
far removed from their state at that time as they could be], 
when Jacob, dying, and blessing his twelve children, de- 
clared to them, that they would be proprietors of a great 
land, and foretold in particular to the family of Judah, that 
the kings, who would one day rule them, should be of his 
race; and that all his brethren should be their subjects; 
[and that even the Messiah, who was to be the expectation 
of nations, should spring from him; and that the kingship 
should not be taken away from Judah, nor the ruler and 
law-giver of his descendants, till the expected Messiah 
should arrive in his family]. 

This same Jacob, disposing of this future land as though 
he had been its ruler, gave a portion to Joseph more than to 
the others. " I give you," said he, " one part more than 
to your brothers." And blessing his two children, Ephraim 
and Manasseh, whom Joseph had presented to him, the elder, 
Manasseh, on his right, and the young Ephraim on his left, 
he put his arms crosswise, and placing his right hand on 
the head of Ephraim, and his left on Manasseh, he blessed 
them in this manner. And, upon Joseph's representing to 
him that he was preferring the younger, he replied to him 
with admirable resolution : " I know it well, my son ; but 
Ephraim will increase more than Manasseh." This has 
been indeed so true in the result, that, being alone almost 
as fruitful as the two entire lines which composed a whole 
kingdom, they have been usually called by the name of 
Ephraim alone. 



242 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

This same Joseph, when dying, bade his children carry 
his bones with them when they should go into that land, to 
which they only came two hundred years afterwards. 

Moses, who wrote all these things so long before they 
happened, himself assigned to each family portions of that 
land before they entered it, as though he had been its ruler. 
[In fact he declared that God was to raise up from their 
nation and their race a prophet, of whom he was the type ; 
and he foretold them exactly all that was to happen to them 
in the land which they were to enter after his death, the 
victories which God would give them, their ingratitude to- 
wards God, the punishments which they would receive for 
it, and the rest of their adventures.] He gave them judges 
who should make the division. He prescribed the entire 
form of political government which they should observe, 
the cities of refuge which they should build, and . . . 



712 

The prophecies about particular things are mingled with 
those about the Messiah, so that the prophecies of the Mes- 
siah should not be without proofs, nor the special prophecies 
without fruit. 

713 

Perpetual captivity of the Jews. — Jer. xi. 1 1 : "I will 
bring evil upon Judah from which they shall not be able to 
escape." 

Types. — Is. v. : " The Lord had a vineyard, from which 
He looked for grapes ; and it brought forth only wild grapes. 
I will therefore lay it waste, and destroy it ; the earth shall 
only bring forth thorns, and I will forbid the clouds from 
[raining] upon it. The vineyard of the Lord is the house 
of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant. I 
looked that they should do justice, and they bring forth only 
iniquities." 

Is. viii.: "Sanctify the Lord with fear and trembling; 
let Him be your only dread, and He shall be to you for a 
sanctuary, but for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence 
to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the 



THE PROPHECIES 243 

inhabitants of Jerusalem; and many among them shall 
stumble against that stone, and fall, and be broken, and be 
snared, and perish. Hide my words, and cover my law for 
my disciples. 

"I will then wait in patience upon the Lord that hideth 
and concealeth Himself from the house of Jacob." 

Is. xxix.: "Be amazed and wonder, people of Israel; 
stagger and stumble, and be drunken, but not with wine; 
stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath 
poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. He will close 
your eyes; He will cover your princes and your prophets 
that have visions." (Daniel xii. : "The wicked shall not 
understand, but the wise shall understand." Hosea, the 
last chapter, the last verse, after many temporal blessings, 
says : " Who is wise, and he shall understand these things, 
&c. ?") "And the visions of all the prophets are become 
unto you as a sealed book, which men deliver to one that is 
learned, and who can read; and he saith, I cannot read it, 
for it is sealed. And when the book is delivered to them that 
are not learned, they say, I am not learned. 

" Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people 
with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart 
far from me," — there is the reason and the cause of it; for 
if they adored God in their hearts, they would understand 
the prophecies, — " and their fear towards me is taught by 
the precept of man. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to 
do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous 
work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men 
shall perish, and their understanding shall be [hid]." 

Prophecies. Proofs of Divinity. — Is. xli. : " Shew the 
things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that 
ye are gods: we will incline our heart unto your words. 
Teach us the things that have been at the beginning, and 
declare us things for to come. 

" By this we shall know that ye are gods. Yea, do good 
or do evil, If you can. Let us then behold it and reason to- 
gether. Behold, ye are of nothing, and only an abomination, 
&c. Who," (among contemporary writers), "hath declared 
from the beginning that we may know of the things done 
from the beginning and origin? that we may say, You arc 



244 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

righteous. There is none that teacheth us, yea, there is 
none that declareth the future." 

Is. xlii. : " I am the Lord, and my glory will I not give 
to another. I have foretold the things which have come to 
pass, and things that are to come do I declare. Sing unto 
God a new song in all the earth. 

" Bring forth the blind people that have eyes and see 
not, and the deaf that have ears and hear not. Let all the 
nations be gathered together. Who among them can declare 
this, and shew us former things, and things to come? Let 
them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified; 
or let them hear, and say, It is truth. 

" Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant 
whom I have chosen ; that ye may know and believe me, 
and understand that I am He. 

" I have declared, and have saved, and I alone have done 
wonders before your eyes: ye are my witnesses, said the 
Lord, that I am God. 

" For your sake I have brought down the forces of the 
Babylonians. I am the Lord, your Holy One and creator. 

" I have made a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty 
waters. I am He that drowned and destroyed for ever the 
mighty enemies that have resisted you. 

" Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the 
things of old. 

" Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; 
shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilder- 
ness, and rivers in the desert. 

"This people have I formed for myself; I have estab- 
lished them to shew forth my praise, &c. 

" I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions 
for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put in 
remembrance your ingratitude : see thou, if thou niayest be 
justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have 
transgressed against me." 

Is. xliv. : " I am the first, and I am the last, saith the 
Lord. Let him who will equal himself to me, declare the 
order of things since I appointed the ancient people, and 
the things that are coming. Fear ye not: have I not told 
you all these things? Ye are my witnesses." 



THE PROPHECIES 245 

Prophecy of Cyrus. — Is. xlv. 4: "For Jacob's sake, mine 
elect, I have called thee by thy name." 

Is. xlv. 21 : " Come and let us reason together. Who hath 
declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from 
that time ? Have not I, the Lord ? " 

Is. xlvi. : " Remember the former things of old, and know- 
there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, 
and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, 
saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my 
pleasure." 

Is. xlii. : " Behold, the former things are come to pass, 
and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell 
you of them." 

Is. xlviii. 3 : "I have declared the former things from the 
beginning; I did them suddenly; and they came to pass. 
Because I know that thou art obstinate, that thy spirit is 
rebellious, and thy brow brass; I have even declared it to 
thee before it came to pass : lest thou shouldst say that it was 
the work of thy gods, and the effect of their commands. 

" Thou hast seen all this ; and will not ye declare it ? I 
have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden 
things, and thou didst not know them. They are created 
now, and not from the beginning; I have kept them hidden 
from thee; lest thou shouldst say, Behold, I knew them. 

" Yea, thou knewest not ; yea, thou heardest not ; yea, 
from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew 
that thou w^ouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a 
transgressor from the womb." 

Reprobation of the J^ws and conversion of the Gentiles. 
— Is. Ixv. : " I am sought of them that asked not for me ; I 
am found of them that sought me not: I said. Behold 
me, behold me, unto a nation that did not call upon my 
name. 

" I have spread out my hands all the day unto an unbeliev- 
ing people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after 
their own thoughts ; a people that provoketh me to anger ■ 
continually by the sins they commit in my face; that sacri- ' 
ficeth to idols, &c. 

" These shall be scattered like smoke in the day of my 
wrath, &c. 



246 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

"Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers, will 
I assemble together, and will recompense you for all accord- 
ing to your works. 

" Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the 
cluster, and one saith. Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it 
[and the promise of fruit] : for my servants' sake I will 
not destroy all Israel. 

" Thus I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob and out of 
Judah, an inheritor of my mountains, and mine elect and 
my servants shall inherit it, and my fertile and abundant 
plains; but I will destroy all others, because you have for- 
gotten your God to serve strange gods. I called, and ye did 
not answer ; I spake, and ye did not hear ; and ye did choose 
the thing which I forbade. 

" Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, my servants shall 
eat, but ye shall be hungry; my servants shall rejoice, but 
ye shall be ashamed; my servants shall sing for joy of 
heart, but ye shall cry and howl for vexation of spirit. 

"And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my 
chosen: for the Lord shall slay thee, and call His servants 
by another name, that he who blesseth himself in the earth 
shall bless himself in God, &c., because the former troubles 
are forgotten, 

" For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth ; and 
the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into 
mind. 

" But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I 
create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her 
people a joy, 

"And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in my people; 
and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, 
nor the voice of crying. 

"Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet 
speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed 
together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock ; and 
dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor 
destroy in all my holy mountain," 

Is. Ivi. 3: "Thus saith the Lord, keep ye judgment, and 
do justice : for my salvation is near to come, and my righte^ 
ousness to be revealed. 



THE PROPHECIES 247 

"Blessed is the man that doeth this, that keepeth the 
Sabbath, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. 

" Neither let the strangers that have joined themselves to 
me, say, God will separate me from His people. For thus 
saith the Lord : Whoever will keep my Sabbath, and choose 
the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 
even unto them will I give in mine house a place and a name 
better than that of sons and of daughters : I will give them 
an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.** 

Is. Hx. 9: "Therefore for our iniquities Is justice far 
from us : we wait for light, but behold obscurity ; for bright- 
ness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like 
the blind; we stumble at noon day as in the night: we are 
in desolate places as dead men. 

" We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves ; we 
look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it 
is far from us.*' 

Is. Ixvi. 18 : " But I know their works and their thoughts ; 
it shall come that I will gather all nations and tongues, and 
they shall see my glory. 

" And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those 
that escape of them unto the nations, to Africa, to Lydia, to 
Italy, to Greece, and to the people that have not heard my 
fame, neither have seen my glory. And they shall bring 
your brethren." 

Jer. vii. Reprobation of the Temple: *\Go ye unto 
Shiloth, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did 
to it for the wickedness of my people. And now, because 
ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, I will do 
unto this house, wherein my name is called upon, wherein 
ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to your priests, 
as I have done to Shiloth." (For I have rejected it, and 
made myself a temple elsewhere.) 

" And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out 
all your brethren, even the seed of Ephraim." (Rejected 
for ever.) "Therefore pray not for this people/' 

Jer. vii. 22: "What avails it you to add sacrifice to sacri- 
fice? For I spake not unto your fathers, when I brought 
them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings 
or sacrifices. But this thing commanded I them, sayings 



248 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Obey and be faithful to my commandments, and 1 wiK be 
your God, and ye shall be my people/* (It was only after 
they had sacrificed to the golden calf that I gave myself 
sacrifices to turn into good an evil custom.) 

Jer. vii. 4: "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The 
temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of 
the Lord, are these.'* 

714 

The Jews witnesses for God. Is. xliii. g; xliv. 8. 

Prophecies fulfilled. — i Kings, xiii. 2. — i Kings, xxiii, 
16. — Jos. vi. 26. — I Kings, xvl. 34. — Deut. xxiii. 

Malachi i. 11. The sacrifice of the Jews rejected, and the 
sacrifice of the heathen, (even out of Jerusalem,) and in all 
places. 

Moses, before dying, foretold the calling of the Gentiles, 
Deut. xxxii. 21, and the reprobation of the Jews. 

Moses foretold what would happen to each tribe. 

Prophecy. — " Your name shall be a curse unto mine elect, 
and I will give them another name." 

"Make their heart fat," and how? by flattering their lust 
and making them hope to satisfy it* 

Prophecy. — Amos and Zechariah. They have sold the 
just one, and therefore will not be recalled. — Jesus Christ 
betrayed. 

They shall no more remember Egypt. See Is. xliii. 16, 
17, 18, 19. Jerem. xxiii. 6, 7. 

Prophecy. — The Jews shall be scattered abroad. Is. xxvii. 
6. — A new law, Jerem. xxxi. 32. 

Malachi. Grotius. — ^^The second temple glorious. — Jesus 
Christ will come. (Haggai, ii. 7, 8, 9, 10.) 

The calling of the ,Gentiles. Joel, ii. 28. Hosea, ii. 24. 
Deut. xxxii. 21. Malachi, i. 11. 

716 

Hosea, lii. — Is. xlii., xlviii., liv., Ix., Ixi., last verse. " I 
foretold it long since that they might know that it is I." 
Jaddus to Alexander. 



THE PROPHECIES 249 

IProphecies.— The promise that David will always have 
descendants. Jer. xiii. 13.] 

718 

The external reign of the race of David, 2 Chron., by ali 
the prophecies, and with an oath. And it was not temporally 
fulfilled. Jerem. xxiii. 20. 

719 

We might perhaps think that, when the prophets foretold 
that the sceptre should not depart from Judah until the 
eternal King came, they spoke to flatter the people, and that 
their prophecy was proved false by Herod. But to show that 
this was not their meaning, and that, on the contrary, they 
knew well that this temporal kingdom should cease, they said 
that they would be without a king and without a prince, and 
for a long time. Rosea iii. 4, 

Non hahemus regem nisi C(BsaremT Therefore Jesus 
Christ was the Messiah, since they had no longer any king 
but a stranger, and would have no other. 

721 
We have no king but C3esar« 

Daniel ii.: "All thy soothsayers and wise men cannot 
shew unto thee the secret which thou hast demanded. But 
there is a God in heaven who can do so, and that hath re- 
vealed to thee in thy dream what shall be in the latter days." 
(This dream must have caused him much misgiving.) 

" And it is not by my own wisdom that I have knowledge 
of this secret, but by the revelation of this same God, that 
hath revealed it to me, to make it manifest in thy presence. 

" Thy dream was then of this kind. Thou sawest a great 
'John, xix. 15. 



2S0 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

image, high and terrible, which stood before thee. His 
head was of gold, his breast and arms of silver, his belly 
and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of 
iron and part of clay. Thus thou sawest fill that a stone 
was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his 
feet, that were of iron and of clay, and brake them to 
pieces. 

" Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the 
gold broken to pieces together, and the wind carried them 
away; but this stone that smote the image became a great 
mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream, 
and now I will give thee the interpretation thereof. 

" Thou who art the greatest of kings, and to whom God 
hath given a power so vast that thou art renowned among 
all peoples, art the head of gold which thou hast seen. But 
after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and 
another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over 
all the earth. 

" But the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, and 
even as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things, so 
shall this empire break in pieces and bruise all. 

" And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of clay 
and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there 
shall be in it of the strength of iron and of the weakness of 
clay. 

" But as iron cannot be firmly mixed with clay, so they 
who are represented by the iron and by the clay, shall not 
cleave one to another though united by marriage. 

" Now in the days of these kings shall God set up a king- 
dom, which shall never be destroyed, nor ever be delivered 
up to other people. It shall break in pieces and consume all 
these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever, according as 
thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain 
without hands, and that it fell from the mountain, and brake 
in pieces, the iron, the clay, the silver, and the gold. jGod 
hath made known to thee what shall come to pass hereafter. 
This dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. 

"Then Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face towards the 
earth," &c. 

Daniel viii. 8. " Daniel having seen the combat of the ram 



THE PROPHECIES JSl 

and of the he-goat, who vanquished him and ruled over the 
earth, whereof the principal horn being broken four others 
came up toward the four winds of heaven, and out of one 
of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding 
great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the 
land of Israel, and it waxed great even to the host of heaven; 
and it cast down some of the stars, and stamped upon them, 
and at last overthrew the prince, and by him the daily sacri- 
fice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast 
down. 

"This is what Daniel saw. He sought the meaning of 
it, and a voice cried in this manner, * Gabriel, make this 
man to understand the vision/ And Gabriel said — 

" The ram which thou sawest is the king of the Medes and 
Persians, and the he-goat is the king of Greece, and the 
great horn that is between his eyes is the first king of this 
monarchy. 

" Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, 
four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in 
his power. 

" And in the latter time of their kingdom, when Iniquities 
are come to the full, there shall arise a king, insolent and 
strong, but not by his own power, to whom all things shall 
succeed after his own will; and he shall destroy the holy 
people, and through his policy also he shall cause craft to 
prosper in his hand, and he shall destroy many. He shall 
also stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall 
perish miserably, and nevertheless by a violent hand.'* 

Daniel ix. 20. ** Whilst I was praying with all my heart, 
and confessing my sin and the sin of all my people, and 
prostrating myself before my God, even Gabriel, whom I 
had seen in the vision at the beginning, came to me and 
touched me about the time of the evening oblation, and he 
informed me and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to 
give thee the knowledge of things. At the beginning of 
thy supplications I came to shew that which thou didst desire, 
for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the mat- 
ter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined 
upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the trans- 
gression, and to make an end of sins, and to abolish iniquity, 



252 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

and to bring in everlasting righteousness; to accomplish the 
vision and the prophecies, and to anoint the Most Holy« 
(After which this people shall be no more thy people, nor 
this city the holy city. The times of wrath shall be passed, 
and the years of grace shall come for ever.) 

" Know therefore, and understand, that, from the going 
forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem 
unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three 
score and two weeks." (The Hebrews were accustomed 
to divide numbers, and to place the small first. Thus, 7, 
and 62 make 69. Of this 70 there will then remain the 
70th, that is to say, the 7 last years of which he will 
speak next.) 

"The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in 
troublous times. And after three score and two weeks," 
(which have followed the first seven. Christ will then be 
killed after the sixty-nine weeks, that is to say, in the last 
week), "the Christ shall be cut off, and a people of the 
prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctu- 
ary, and overwhelm all, and the end of that war shall ac- 
complish the desolation." 

" Now one week/' (which is the seventieth, which re- 
mains), "shall confirm the covenant with many, and in the 
midst of the week," (that is to say, the last three and a 
half years), "he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to 
cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall 
make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that de- 
termined shall be poured upon the desolate." 

Daniel, xi. The angel said to Daniel : " There shall stand 
up yet," (after Cyrus, under whom this still is), "three kings 
in Persia," (Cambyses, Smyrdis, Darius); "and the fourth 
who shall then come," (Xerxes) " shall be far richer than 
they all, and far stronger, and shall stir up all his people 
against the Greeks. 

"But a mighty king shall stand up," (Alexander), "that 
shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 
And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, 
and shall be divided in four parts toward the four winds of 
heaven," (as he had said above, vi, 6, viii, 8), "but not his 
posterity; and his successors shall not equal his power, for 



THE PROPHECIES 253 

his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides 
these," (his four chief successors), 

"And the king of the south," (Ptolemy, son of Lagos, 
Egypt), "shall be strong; but one of his princes shall be 
strong above him, and his dominion shall be a great do- 
minion/' (Seleucus, King of Syria. Appian says that he 
was the most powerful of Alexander's successors). 

"And in the end of years they shall join themselves to- 
gether, and the king's daughter of the south," (Berenice, 
daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, son of the other Ptol- 
emy), " shall come to the king of the north," (to Antiochus 
Deus, King of Syria and of Asia, son of Seleucus Lagidas), 
" to make peace between these princes. 

" But neither she nor her seed shall have a long authority ; 
for she and they that brought her, and her children, and her 
friends, shall be delivered to death." (Berenice and her son 
were killed by Seleucus Callinicus.) 

" But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up," 
(Ptolemy Euergetes was the issue of the same father as 
Berenice), "which shall come with a mighty army into the 
land of the king of the north, where he shall put all under 
subjection, and he shall also carry captive into Egypt their 
gods, their princes, their gold, their silver, and all their 
precious spoils," (if he had not been called into Egypt by 
domestic reasons, says Justin, he would have entirely stripped 
Seleucus); "and he shall continue several years when the 
king of the north can do nought against him. 

" And so he shall return into his kingdom. But his sons 
shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great 
forces," (Seleucus Ceraunus, Antiochus the Great). "And 
their army shall come and overthrow all; wherefore the 
king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall also 
form a great army, and fight him," (Ptolemy Philopator 
against Antiochus the Great at Raphia), "and conquer; 
and his troops shall become insolent, and his heart shall 
be lifted up," (this Ptolemy desecrated the temple: Jose- 
phus) : " he shall cast down many ten thousands, but he 
shall not be strengthened by it. For the king of the north," 
(Antiochus the Great), "shall return with a greater multi- 
tude than before, and in those times also a great number of 



254 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

enemies shall stand up against the king of the south,*' (dur- 
ing the reign of the young Ptolemy Epiphanes), "also 
the apostates and robbers of thy people shall exalt them- 
selves to establish the vision; but they shall fall." (Those 
who abandon their religion to please Euergetes, when he 
will send his troops to Scopas ; for Antiochus will again take 
Scopas, and conquer them.) "And the king of the north 
shall destroy the fenced cities, and the arms of the south 
shall not withstand, and all shall yield to his will; he shall 
stand in the land of Israel, and it shall yield to him. And 
thus he shall think to make himself master of all the empire 
of Egypt," (despising the youth of Epiphanes, says Justin). 
" And for that he shall make alliance with him, and give his 
daughter" (Cleopatra, in order that she may betray her 
husband. On which Appian says the doubting his ability 
to make himself master of Egypt by force, because of the 
protection of the Romans, he wished to attempt it by cun- 
ning). "He shall wish to corrupt her, but she shall not 
stand on his side, neither be for him. Then he shall turn 
his face to other designs, and shall think to make himself 
master of some isles," (that is to say, seaports), "and shall 
take many," (as Appian says). 

" But a prince shall oppose his conquests," ( Scipio Af ri- 
canus, who stopped the progress of Antiochus the Great, 
because he offended the Romans in the person of their 
allies), "and shall cause the reproach offered by him to 
cease. He shall then return into his kingdom and there 
perish, and be no more." (He was slain by his soldiers.) 

"And he who shall stand up in his estate," (Seleucus 
Philopator or Soter, the son of Antiochus the Great), " shall 
be a tyrant, a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom," 
(which means the people), "but within a few days he shall 
be destroyed, neither in anger nor in battle. And in his 
place shall stand up a vile person, unworthy of the honour 
of the kingdom, but he shall come in cleverly by flatteries. 
All armies shall bend before him ; he shall conquer them, and 
even the prince with whom he has made a covenant. For 
having renewed the league with him, he shall work deceit- 
fully, and enter with a small people into his province, peace- 
ably and without fear. He shall take the fattest places, and 



THE PROPHECIES 3SS 

shall do that which his fathers have not done, and ravage on 
all sides. He shall forecast great devices during his time." 



1^^ 

Prophecies. — The seventy weeks of Daniel are ambiguous 
as regards the term of commencement, because of the terms 
of the prophecy ; and as regards the term of conclusion, be- 
cause of the differences among chronologists. But all this 
difference extends only to two hundred years. 



724 

Predictions. — ^That in the fourth monarchy, before the 
destruction of the second temple, before the dominion of the 
Jews was taken away, in the seventieth week of Daniel, 
during the continuance of the second temple, the heathen 
should be instructed, and brought to the knowledge of the 
God worshipped by the Jews; that those who loved Him 
should be delivered from their enemies, and filled with His 
fear and love. 

And it happened that in the fourth monarchy, before the 
destruction of the second temple, &c., the heathen in great 
number worshipped God, and led an angelic life. Maidens 
dedicated their virginity and their life to God. Men re- 
nounced their pleasures. What Plato could only make ac- 
ceptable to a few men, specially chosen and instructed, a 
secret influence imparted, by the power of a few words, to 
a hundred million ignorant men. 

The rich left their wealth. Children left the dainty homes 
of their parents to go into the rough desert. (See Philo the 
Jew.) All this was foretold a great while ago. For two 
thousand years no heathen had worshipped the God of the 
Jew; and at the time foretold, a great number of the heathen 
worshipped this only God. The temples were destroyed. 
The very kings made submission to the cross. All this was 
due to the Spirit of God, which was spread abroad upon the 
earth. 

No heathen, since Moses until Jesus Christ, believed ac- 
cording to the very Rabbis. A great number of the heathen, 



256 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

after Jesus Christ, believed in the books of Moses, kept 
them in substance and spirit, and only rejected what was 
useless. 

725 

Prophecies. — The conversion of the Egyptians (Isaiah, 
xix. 19) ; an altar in Egypt to the true God. 



726 

Prophecies. — In Egypt. — Pugio Fidei, p. 659. Talmud. 

" It is a tradition among us, that, when the Messiah shall 
come, the house of God, destined for the dispensation of 
His Word, shall be full of filth and impurity; and that the 
wisdom of the scribes shall be corrupt and rotten. Those 
who shall be afraid to sin, shall be rejected by the people, and 
treated as senseless fools." 

Is. xlix. : " Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken, ye people, 
from afar: The Lord hath called me by my name from the 
womb of my mother; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid 
me, and hath made my words like a sharp sword, and said 
unto me. Thou art my servant in whom I will be glorified. 
Then I said, Lord, have I laboured in vain? have I spent my 
strength for nought? yet surely my judgment is with Thee, 
O Lord, and my work with Thee. And now, saith the Lord, 
that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring 
Jacob and Israel again to Him: Thou shalt be glorious in 
my sight, and I will be thy strength. It is a light thing that 
thou shouldst convert the tribes of Jacob ; I have raised thee 
ap for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my sal- 
vation unto the ends of the earth. Thus saith the Lord to 
him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, 
to a servant of rulers. Princes and kings shall worship thee, 
because the Lord is faithful that hath chosen thee. 

" Again saith the Lord unto me, I have heard thee in 
the days of salvation and of mercy, and I will preserve thee 
for a covenant of the people, to cause to inherit the desolate 
nations, that thou mayest say to the prisoners: Go forth; 
to them that are in darkness show yourselves, and possess 
these abundant and fertile lands. They shall not hunger 



THE PROPHECIES 257 

nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor sun smite them; for 
he that hath mercy upon them shall lead them, even by the 
springs of waters shall he guide them, and make the moun- 
tains a way before them. Behold, the peoples shall come 
from all parts, from the east and from the west, from the 
north and from the south. Let the heavens give glory to 
God; let the earth be joyful; for it hath pleased the Lord 
to comfort His people, and He will have mercy upon the 
poor who hope in Him. 

"Yet Sion dared to say: The Lord hath forsaken me, 
and hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her child, that 
she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? 
but if she forget, yet will not I forget thee, O Sion. I will 
bear thee always between my hands, and thy walls are con- 
tinually before me. They that shall build thee are come, and 
thy destroyers shall go forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes 
round about, and behold; all these gather themselves to- 
gether, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou 
shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, 
thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruc- 
tion, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhab- 
itants, and the children thou shalt have after thy barrenness 
shall say again in thy ears: The place is too strait for me: 
give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in 
thy heart: who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost 
my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and 
fro? and who brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; 
there, where had they been? And the Lord shall say to 
thee: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and 
set up my standard to the people ; and they shall bring thy 
sons in their arms and in their bosoms. And kings shall 
be their nursing fathers, and queens their nursing mothers: 
they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, 
and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that 
I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for 
me. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty? But even if 
the captives be taken away from the strong, nothing shall 
hinder me from saving thy children, and from destroying 
thy enemies ; and all flesh shall know that I am the Lord, thy 
Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. 

HC XLVni (i) 



258 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

** Thus saith the Lord ; What is the bill of this divorcement, 
wherewith I have put away the synagogue? and why have 
I delivered it into the hands of your enemies? Is it not 
for your iniquities and for your transgressions that I have 
put it away ? 

" For I came, and no man received me ; I called, and 
there was none to hear. Is my arm shortened that I can- 
not redeem? 

" Therefore I will show the tokens of mine anger ; I will 
clothe the heavens with darkness, and make sack cloth their 
covering. 

" The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned that 
I should know how to speak a word in season to him that 
is weary. He hath opened mine ear, and I have listened 
to Him as a master. 

" The Lord hath revealed His will, and I was not rebel- 
lious. 

" I gave my body to the-smiters, and my cheeks to outrage; 
I hid not my face from shame and spitting. But the Lord 
hath helped me; therefore I have not been confounded. 

" He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? 
who will be mine adversary, and accuse me of sin, God 
himself being my protector? 

" All men shall pass away, and be consumed by time ; let 
those that fear God hearken to the voice of His servant ; let 
him that languisheth in darkness put his trust in the Lord. 
But as for you, ye do but kindle the wrath of God upon 
you ; ye walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks that 
ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand ; ye shall 
lie down in sorrow. 

"Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye 
that seek the Lord : look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, 
and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look 
unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: 
for I called him alone, when childless, and increased him. 
Behold, I have comforted Zion, and heaped upon her bless- 
ings and consolations. 

" Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me ; for 
a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment 
to rest for a light of the Gentiles." 



THE PROPHECIES 239 

Amos, viii. The prophet, having enumerated the sins of 
Israel, said that God had sworn to take vengeance on them. 

He says this: "And it shall come to pass in that day, 
saith the Lord, that I will cause the sun to go down at 
noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and I 
will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs 
into lamentation. 

" You all shall have sorrow and suffering, and I will make 
this nation mourn as for an only son, and the end therefore 
as a bitter day. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, 
that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, 
nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 
And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north 
even to the east ; they shall run to and fro to seek the word 
of the Lord, and shall not find it. 

"In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint 
for thirst. They that have followed the idols of Samaria, 
and sworn by the god of Dan, and followed the manner of 
Beersheba, shall fall, and never rise up again." 

Amos, iii. 2: "Ye only have I known of all the families 
of the earth for my people.'* 

Daniel, xii. 7. Having described all the extent of the 
reign of the Messiah, he says : " All these things shall be 
finished, when the scattering of the people of Israel shall be 
accomplished." 

Haggai, ii. 4 : "Ye who, comparing this second house with 
the glory of the first, despise it, be strong, saith the Lord, 
be strong, O Zerubbabel, and O Jesus, the high priest, be 
strong, all ye people of the land, and work. For I am with 
you, saith the Lord of hosts; according to the word that 
I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my 
spirit remaineth among you. Fear ye not. For thus saith 
the Lord of hosts : Yet one little while, and I will shake the 
heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land," (a 
way of speaking to indicate a great and an extraordinary 
change) ; "and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all 
the Gentiles shall come ; and I will fill this house with glory, 
saith the Lord. 

" The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord," 
(that is to say, it is not by that that I wish to be honoured; 



260 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

as it IS said elsewhere* All the beasts of the field are mine, 
what advantages me that they are offered me in sacrifice?). 
" The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of 
the former, saith the Lord of hosts; and in this place will 
I establish my house, saith the Lord. 

"According to all that thou desiredst in Horeb in the 
day of the assembly, saying, Let us not hear again the voice 
of the Lord, neither let us see this fire any more, that we 
die not. And the Lord said unto me, Their prayer is just. 
I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, 
like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and 
he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And 
it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto 
my words which he will speak in my name, I will require it 
of him." 

Genesis, xlix. " Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren 
shall praise, and thou shalt conquer thine enemies; thy 
father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is 
a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up, 
and art couched as a lion, and as a lioness that shall be 
roused up. 

" The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law- 
giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto 
him shall the gathering of the people be." 



1^7 

During the life of the Messiah. — Mnigmatis. — Ezek. xvii. 

His forerunner. Malachi, iii. 

He will be born an infant. Is. ix. 

He will be born in the village of Bethlehem. Micah, v. 
He will appear chiefly in Jerusalem, and will be a descendant 
of the family of Judah and of David. 

He is to blind the learned and the wise. Is. vi., viii., xxix., 
&c. ; and to preach the Gospel to the lowly. Is. xxix.; to 
open the eyes of the blind, give health to the sick, and bring 
light to those that languish in darkness. Is. Ixi. 

He is to show the perfect way, and be the teacher of the 
Gentiles. Is. Iv. ; xlii. 1—7. 

The prophecies are to be unintelligible to the wicked, Dan. 



THE PROPHECIES 261 

xii. ; Rosea, xiv. lo; but they are to be intelligible to those 
who are well informed. 

The prophecies, which represent Him as poor, represent 
Him as master of the nations. Is. Hi. 14, &c. ; liii.; Zech. 
ix. 9. 

The prophecies, which foretell the time, foretell Him only 
as master of the nations and suffering, and not as in the 
clouds nor as judge. And those, which represent Him thus 
as judge and in glory, do not mention the time. When the 
Messiah is spoken of as great and glorious, it is as the judge 
of the world, and not its Redeemer. 

He is to be the victim for the sins of the world. Is. 
xxxix., liii., &c. 

He is to be the precious corner-stone. Is. xxviii., 16. 

He is to be a stone of stumbling and offence. Is. viii. 
Jerusalem is to dash against this stone. 

The builders are to reject this stone. Ps. cxvii. 22. 

God is to make this stone the chief corner-stone. 

And this stone is to grow into a huge mountain, and fill 
the whole earth. Dan. ii. 

So He is to be rejected, despised, betrayed, (Ps. cviii. 8), 
sold (Zech. xi. 12), spit upon, buffeted, mocked, afflicted in 
innumerable ways, given gall to drink (Ps. Ixviii.), pierced 
(Zech. xii.), His feet and His hands pierced, slain, and lots 
cast for His raiment. 

He will rise again (Ps. xv.) the third day (Hosea, vi. 3). 

He will ascend to heaven to sit on the right hand. Ps. ex. 

The kings will arm themselves against Him. Ps. ii. 

Being on the right hand of the Father, He will be vic- 
torious over His enemies. 

The kings of the earth and all nations will worship Him. 
Is. Ix. 

The Jews will continue as a nation. Jeremiah. 

They will wander, without kings, &c. (Hosea iii.), with 
out prophets (Amos), looking for salvation and finding it 
not (Isaiah). 

Calling of the Gentiles by Jesus Christ. Is Hi. 15; Iv. 5; 
Ix., &c. Ps. Ixxxi. 

Hosea, i. 9: "Ye are not my people, and I will not be 
your God, when ye are multiplied after the dispersion. In 



262 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

the places where it was said, Ye are not my people, I will 
call them my people." 

728 

It was not lawful to sacrifice outside of Jerusalem, which 
was the place that the Lord has chosen, nor even to eat the 
tithes elsewhere. Deut. xii. 5, &c. ; Deut. xiv. 23, &c. ; 
XV. 20; xvi. 2, 7, II, 15. 

Hosea foretold that they should be without a king, without 
a prince, without a sacrifice, and without an idol; and this 
prophecy is now fulfilled, as they cannot make a lawful 
sacrifice out of Jerusalem. 

729 

Predictions. — It was foretold that, in the time of the 
Messiah, He should come to establish a new covenant, which 
should make them forget the escape from Egypt (Jer. xxiii. 
5; Is. xliii. 16) that He should place His law not in exter- 
nals, but in the heart; that He should put His fear, which 
had only been from without, in the midst of the heart. 
Who does not see the Christian law in all this ? 

730 

. . . That then idolatry would be overthrown; that this 
Messiah would cast down all idols, and bring men into the 
worship of the true God. 

That the temples of the idols would be cast down, and 
that among all nations, and in all places of the earth, He 
would be offered a pure sacrifice, not of beasts. 

That He would be king of the Jews and Gentiles. And 
we see this king of the Jews and Gentiles oppressed by 
both, who conspire His death; and ruler of both, destroying 
the worship of Moses in Jerusalem, which was its centre, 
where He made His first Church; and also the worship of 
idols in Rome, the centre of it, where He made His chief 
Church. 

Prophecies. — That Jesus Christ will sit on the right hand, 
till God has subdued His enemies. 
Therefore He will not subdue them Himself. 



THE PROPHECIES 



732 

"... Then they shall teach no more every man his 
neighbor, saying, Here is the Lord, for God shall make Him- 
self known to all.** 

"... Your sons shall prophesy." "I will put my spirit 
and my fear in your heart.** 

All that is the same thing. To prophesy is to speak of 
God, not from outward proofs, but from an inward and im- 
mediate feeling. 

733 

That He would teach men the perfect way. 

And there has never come, before Him nor after Him, 
any man who has taught anything divine approaching to 
this. 

734 

. . . That Jesus Christ would be small in His beginning, 
and would then increase. The little stone of Daniel. 

H I had in no wise heard of the Messiah, nevertheless, 
after such wonderful predictions of tlie course of the world 
which I see fulfilled, I see that He is divine. And if I 
knew that these same books foretold a Messiah, I should be 
sure that He would come; and seeing that they place His 
time before the destruction of the second temple, I should 
say that He had come. 

735 

Prophecies. — That the Jews would reject Jesus Christ, and 
would be rejected of God, for this reason, that the chosen 
vine brought forth only wild grapes. That the chosen people 
would be faithless, ungrateful, and unbelieving, popuhim non 
credentem et contradicentem.* That God would strike them 
with blindness, and in full noon they would grope like the 
blind; and that a forerunner would go before Him. 

736 

TransHxerunt. Zech. xii. 10. 

That a deliverer should come, who would crush the 

* Isaiah, Ixv. 2; Romans, x. 21. 



264 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

demon's head, and free His people from their sins, ex om* 
nihus hiiquitatibus; that there should be a New Covenant, 
which would be eternal ; that there should be another priest- 
hood after the order of Melchisedek, and it should be 
eternal; that the Christ should be glorious, mighty, strong, 
and yet so poor that He would not be recognised, nor taken 
for what He is, but rejected and slain ; that His people who 
denied Him should no longer be His people; that the idol- 
aters should receive Him, and take refuge in Him; that He 
should leave Zion to reign in the centre of idolatry; that 
nevertheless the Jews should continue for ever; that He 
should be of Judah, and when there should be no longer 
a king. 



SECTION XII 
Proofs of Jesus Christ 

737 

THEREFORE I reject all other religions. In that way 
I find an answer to all objections. It is right that a 
God so pure should only reveal Himself to those whose 
hearts are purified. Hence this religion is lovable to me, 
and I find it now sufficiently justified by so divine a morality. 
But I find more in it. 

I find it convincing that, since the memory of man has 
lasted, it was constantly announced to men that they were 
universally corrupt, but that a Redeemer should come; that 
it was not one man who said it, but innumerable men, and 
a whole nation, expressly made for the purpose, and 
prophesying for four thousand years. This is a nation 
which is more ancient than every other nation. Their books, 
scattered abroad, are four thousand years old. 

The more I examine them, the more truths I find in them: 
an entire nation foretell Him before His advent, and an en- 
tire nation worship Him after His advent; what has preceded 
and what has followed; in short, people without idols and 
kings, this synagogue which was foretold, and these wretches 
who frequent it, and who, being our enemies, are admirable 
witnesses of the truth of these prophecies, wherein their 
wretchedness and even their blindness are foretold. 

I find this succession, this religion, wholly divine in its 
authority, in its duration, in its perpetuity, in its morality, 
in its conduct, in its doctrine, in its efifects. The frightful 
darkness of the Jews was foretold. Eris palpans in meridie^ 
Dahitur liber scienti lit eras, et dicef: Non possum legerc.^ 
While the sceptre was still in the hands of the first foreign 
usurper, there is the report of the coming of Jesus Christ. 

* Deut.» xxviii. 29. ^ Isaiah, xxix. 12. 

263 



266 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

So I hold out my arms to my Redeemer, who, having 
been foretold for four thousand years, has come to suffer and 
to die for me on earth, at the time and under all the cir- 
cumstances foretold. By His grace, I await death in peace, 
in the hope of being eternally united to Him. Yet I live 
with joy, whether in the prosperity which it pleases Him 
to bestow upon me, or in the adversity which He sends for 
my good, and which He has taught me to bear by His 
example. 

738 

The prophecies having given different signs which should 
all happen at the advent of the Messiah, it was necessary that 
all these signs should occur at the same time. So it was 
necessary that the fourth monarchy should have come, when 
the seventy weeks of Daniel were ended; and that the sceptre 
should have then departed from Judah. And all this hap- 
pened without any difficulty. Then it was necessary that 
the Messiah should come ; and Jesus Christ then came, who 
was called the Messiah. And all this again was without dif- 
ficulty. This indeed shows the truth of the prophecies. 

739 

The prophets foretold, and were not foretold. The saints 
again were foretold, but did not foretell. Jesus Christ 
both foretold and was foretold. 

740 

Jesus Christ, whom the two Testaments regard, the Old 
as its hope, the New as its model, and both as their centre. 

741 

The two oldest books in the world are those of Moses and 
Job, the one a Jew and the other a Gentile. Both of them 
look upon Jesus Christ as their common centre and object: 
Moses in relating the promises of God to Abraham, Jacob, 
&c., and his prophecies ; and Job, Quis mihi det ut, &c. Scio 
enim quod redemptor mens vivit, &c.* 
*Jdb, xtx. 23-25. 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 267 



742 

The Gospel only speaks of the virginity of the Virgin up 
to the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. All with reference 
to Jesus Christ. 

743 
Proofs of Jesus Christ. 

Why was the book of Ruth preserved? 
Why the story of Tamar? 

744 

" Pray that ye enter not into temptation." It is dangerous 
to be tempted; and people are tempted because they do not 
pray. 

Et tu conversus coniirma fratres tuos* But before, con- 
versus Jesus respexit Petrum^ 

Saint Peter asks permission to strike Malchus, and strikes 
before hearing the answer. Jesus Christ replies afterwards. 

The word, Galilee, which the Jewish mob pronounced as if 
by chance, in accusing Jesus Christ before Pilate, afforded 
Pilate a reason for sending Jesus Christ to Herod. And 
thereby the mystery was accomplished, that He should be 
judged by Jews and Gentiles. Chance was apparently the 
cause of the accomplishment of the mystery. 

745 
Those who have a difficulty in believing seek a reason 
in the fact that the Jews do not believe. "Were this so 
clear/' say they, "why did the Jews not believe?" And 
they almost wish that they had believed, so as not to be 
kept back by the example of their refusal. But it is their 
very refusal that is the foundation of our faith. We should 
be much less disposed to the faith, if they were on our side. 
We should then have a more ample pretext. The wonder- 
ful thing is to have made the Jews great lovers of the things 
foretold, and great enemies of their fulfilment. 

*Luke, xxii. 32. ^Luke, xxii. 61. 



268 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

746 

The Jews were accustomed to great and striking miracles^ 
and so, having had the great miracles of the Red Sea 
and of the land of Canaan as an epitome of the great deeds 
of their Messiah, they therefore looked for more striking 
miracles, of which those of Moses were only the patterns. 



747 
The carnal Jews and the heathen have their calamities, 
and Christians also. There is no Redeemer for the heathen, 
for they do not so much as hope for one. There is no 
Redeemer for the Jews ; they hope for Him in vain. There 
is a Redeemer only for Christians. {See Perpetuity.) 

748 

In the time of the Messiah the people divided themselves. 
The spiritual embraced the Messiah, and the coarser-minded 
remained to serve as witnesses of Him. 



749 

" If this was clearly foretold to the Jews, how did they not 
believe it, or why were they not destroyed for resisting a fact 
so clear?" 

I reply: in the first place, it was foretold both that they 
would not believe a thing so clear, and that they would not 
be destroyed. And nothing is more to the glory of the 
Messiah; for it was not enough that there should be 
prophets ; their prophets must be kept above suspicion. Now, 
&c. 

750 

If the Jews had all been converted by Jesus Christ, we 
should have none but questionable witnesses. And if they 
had been entirely destroyed, we should have no witnesses 
at all. 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 269 

751 

What do the prophets say of Jesus Christ? That He will 
be clearly God? No; but that He is a God truly hidden; 
that He will be slighted ; that none will think that it is He ; 
that He will be a stone of stumbling, upon which many 
will stumble, &c. Let people then reproach us no longer for 
want of clearness, since we make profession of it. 

But, it is said, there are obscurities. — And without that, 
no one would have stumbled over Jesus Christ, and this 
is one of the formal pronouncements of the prophets: 
ExccBca!^ 

752 

Moses first teaches the Trinity, original sin, the Messiah. 

David: a great witness; a king, good, merciful, a beautiful 
soul, a sound mind, powerful. He prophesies, and his 
wonder comes to pass. This is infinite. 

He had only to say that he was the Messiah, if he had been 
vain; for the prophecies are clearer about him than about 
Jesus Christ. And the same with Saint John. 

753 

Herod was believed to be the Messiah. He had taken away 
the sceptre from Judah, but he was not of Judah. This gave 
rise to a considerable sect. 

Curse of the Greeks upon those who count three periods 
of time. 

In what way should the Messiah come, seeing that through 
Him the sceptre was to be eternally in Judah, and at His 
coming the sceptre was to be taken away from Judah ? 

In order to effect that seeing they should not see, and 
hearing they should not understand, nothing could be better 
done. 

754 
Homo existens te Deum facitJ 
Scriptiim est, Dii estis, et non potest solvi Scriptura." 

•Isaiah, vi. 10. "* " Man existing makes thee God." 

■" " It is written, ' You are Gods,' and the Scripture cannot be overthrown.*' 



270 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

HcBc infirmifas non est ad vitam et est ad mortem.* 
Lazarus dormit, et deinde dixit: Lazarus mortuus esf^ 



755 
The apparent discrepancy of the Gospels. 

756 

What can we have but reverence for a man who foretells 
plainly things which come to pass, and who declares his 
intention both to blind and to enlighten, and who intersperses 
obscurities among the clear things which come to pass ? 

757 
The time of the first advent was foretold; the time of the 
second is not so; because the first was to be obscure, and 
the second is to be brilliant, and so manifest that even His 
enemies will recognise it. But, as He was first to come only 
in obscurity, and to be known only of those who searched the 
Scriptures. . . . 

758 

God, in order to cause the Messiah to be known by the 
good and not to be known by the wicked, made Him to be 
foretold in this manner. If the manner of the Messiah had 
been clearly foretold, there would have been no obscurity, 
even for the wicked. If the time had been obscurely fore- 
told, there would have been obscurity, even for the good. 
For their [goodness of heart] would not have made them 
understand, for instance, that the closed mem signifies six 
hundred years. But the time has been clearly foretold, and 
the manner in types. 

By this means, the wicked, taking the promised blessings 
for material blessings, have fallen into error, in spite of 
the clear prediction of the time ; and the good have not fallen 
into error. For the understanding of the promised bless- 

• '* This sickness is not unto life, and is unto death.** 
'•John, xL II, 14. 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 271 

ings depends on the heart, which calls " good " that which 
it loves; but the understanding of the promised time does 
not depend on the heart. And thus the clear prediction of 
the time, and the obscure prediction of the blessings, deceive 
the wicked alone. 

759 

Either the Jews or the Qiristians must be wicked. 

760 

The Jews reject Him, but not all. The saints receive 
Him, and not the carnal-minded. And so far is this from 
being against His glory, that it is the last touch which 
crowns it. For their argument, the only one found in all 
their writings, in the Talmud and in the Rabbinical writings, 
amounts only to this, that Jesus Christ has not subdued the 
nations w'th sword in hand, gladhim tuum, potentissime,^ 
Is this all they have to say? Jesus Christ has been slain, say 
they. He has failed. He has not subdued the heathen with 
His might. He has not bestowed upon us their spoil. He 
does not give riches. Is this all they have to say? It is 
in this respect that He is lovable to me. I would not desire 
Him whom they fancy. It is evident that it is only His life 
which has prevented them from accepting Him ; and through 
this rejection they are irreproachable witnesses, and, what 
is more, they thereby accomplish the prophecies. 

[By means of the fact that this people have not accepted 
Him, this miracle here has happened. The prophecies were 
the only lasting miracles which could be wrought, but they 
were liable to be denied.] 

761 

The Jews, in slaying Him in order not to receive Him 
as the Messiah, have given -Him the final proof of being 
the Messiah. 

And in continuing not to recognise Him, they made them- 
selves irreproachable witnesses. Both in slaying Him, and 
in continuing to deny Him, they have fulfilled the prophecies 
(Isa. Ix.; Ps. Ixxi.). 

tt Psalms, xlv. 3. 



272 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

What could the Jews, His enemies, do? If they receive 
Him, they give proof of Him by their reception; for then 
the guardians of the expectation of the Messiah receive Him. 
If they reject Him, they give proof of Him by their rejec- 
tion. 

763 
The Jews, in testing if He were God, have shown that He 
was man. 

764 

The Church has had as much difficulty in showing that 
Jesus Christ was man, against those who denied it, as in 
showing that he was God ; and the probabilities were equally 
great. 

765 
Source of contradictions. — A God humiliated, even to 
the death on the cross ; a Messiah triumphing over death by 
his own death. Two natures in Jesus Christ, two advents, 
two states of man's nature. 

y66 

Types. — Saviour, father, sacrificer, offering, food, king, 
wise, law-giver, afflicted, poor, having to create a people 
whom He must lead and nourish and bring into His 
land . . . 

Jesus Christ. Offices. — He alone had to create a great 
people, elect, holy, and chosen; to lead, nourish, and bring 
it into the place of rest and holiness ; to make it holy to God ; 
to make it the temple of God; to reconcile it to, and save it 
from the wrath of God; to free it from the slavery of sin, 
which visibly reigns in man ; to give laws to this people, and 
engrave these laws on their heart; to offer Himself to God 
for them, and sacrifice Himself for them; to be a victim 
without blemish, and Himself the sacrificer, having to offer 
Himself, His body, and His blood, and yet to offer bread and 
wine to God . . • 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 273 

Ingrediens mundum^ 
" Stone upon stone.*' 

What preceded and what followed. All the Jews exist 
still, and are wanderers. 

767 

0£ all that is on earth, He partakes only of the sorrows, 
not of the joys. He loves His neighbours, but His love does 
not confine itself within these bounds, and overflows to His 
own enemies, and then to those of God. 

768 

Jesus Christ typified by Joseph, the beloved of his father, 
sent by his father to see his brethren, &c., innocent, sold by 
his brethren for twenty pieces of silver, and thereby becom- 
ing their lord, their saviour, the saviour of strangers, and 
the saviour of the world; which had not been buc for their 
plot to destroy him, their sale and their rejection of him. 

In prison Joseph innocent between two criminals; Jesus 
Christ on the cross between two thieves. Joseph foretells 
freedom to the one, and death to the other, from the same 
omens. Jesus Christ saves the elect, and condemns the out- 
cast for the same sins. Joseph foretells only; Jesus Christ 
acts. Joseph asks him who will be saved to remember him, 
when he comes into his glory; and he whom Jesus Christ 
saves asks that He will remember him, when He comes into 
His kingdom. 

769 

The conversion of the heathen was only reserved for the 
grace of the Messiah. The Jews have been so long in opposi- 
tion to them without success; all that Solomon and the 
prophets said has been useless. Sages, like Plato and 
Socrates, have not been able to persuade them. 

770 

After many persons had gone before, Jesus Christ at last 
came to say : " Here am I, and this is the time. That 
which the prophets have said was to come in the fulness of 

"Hebrews, x. 5, 



274 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

time, I tell you My apostles will do. The Jews shall be cast 
out. Jerusalem shall be soon destroyed. And the heathen 
shall enter into the knowledge of God. My apostles shall 
do this after you have slain the heir of the vineyard." 

Then the apostles said to the Jews: "You shall be 
accursed," {Celsus laughed at it) ; and to the heathen, " You 
shall enter into the knowledge of God." And this then 
came to pass. 

771 

Jesus Christ came to blind those who saw clearly, and to 
give sight to the blind ; to heal the sick, and leave the healthy 
to die; to call to repentance, and to justify sinners, and to 
leave the righteous in their sins ; to fill the needy, and leave 
the rich empty. 

772 

Holiness. — Effundum spiritum meum^ All nations were 
in unbelief and lust. The whole world now became fervent 
with love. Princes abandoned their pomp; maidens suffered 
martyrdom. Whence came this influence ? The Messiah was 
come. These were the effect and signs of His coming. 

77Z 

Destruction of the Jews and heathen by Jesus Christ: 
Omnes gentes venient et adorahunt eum^* Parum est ut, 
&c." Postula a me^^ Adorahunt eum omnes reges}"^ Testes 
iniqiii^ Dahit maxillam percutienti?* Dederunt fel in 
escam^ 

77A 

Jesus Christ for all, Moses for a nation. 

The Jews blessed in Abraham : *' I will bless those that 
bless thee." But : " All nations blessed in his seed." Parum 
est ut, &c. 

Lumen ad revelationem gentium.^ 

Non fecit taliter omni nationi^ said David, in speaking 
of the Law. But, in speaking of Jesus Christ, we must say: 

1* Joel, ii. 28. " Psalms xxii. 27. '^ Isaiali xlix. 6. *• Psalms ii. & 

^ Psalms Ixxii. 1 1. i» Psalms xxxv. 1 1. ^* Lament, iii. 30. 
» Psalms Ixix. 21. a Luke ii. 31. « Psalms cxlvii. so. 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 275 

Fecit taliter omni nationi. Parum est ut, &c., Isaiah. So it 
belongs to Jesus Christ to be universal. Even the Church 
offers sacrifice only for the faithful. Jesus Christ offered 
that of the cross for all. 

775 

There is heresy in always explaining omnes by " all," and 
heresy in not explaining it sometimes by " all." Bibite ex 
hoc omnes f* the Huguenots are heretics in explaining it by 
" all." In quo omnes peccaveruntf* the Huguenots are here- 
tics in excepting the children of true believers. We must 
then follow the Fathers and tradition in order to know when 
to do so, since there is heresy to be feared on both sides. 

776 

Ne timeas pusillus grex^ Timor e et tremor e. — Quid ergo? 
Ne timeas [modo] timeas. Fear not, provided you fear; 
but if you fear not, then fear. 

Qui me recipit, non me recipit, sed eiim qui me misit.^ 

Nemo scit, neque FiliusJ" 

Nuhes lucida ohumhravit^ 

Saint John was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the 
children, and Jesus Christ to plant division. There is no 
contradiction. 

777 
The effects in communi and in particulari^ The semi- 
Pelagians err in saying of in communi what is true only in 
particulari; and the Calvinists in saying in particulari what 
is true in communi. Such is my opinion. 

778 

Omnis Judcea regio, et Jerosolomytce universi, et haptiz- 
ahantur^ Because of all the conditions of men who came 
there. 

From these stones there can come children unto Abraham. 

3* Matt. XXVI. 27, 34 Rom. v. 12. * Luke xii. z^- ^ Matt. x. 40. 

^ Matt. xi. 27. 28 Matt. xvii. 5. ** " In general," " in particular." 

»• Mark i. s. 



276 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

779 
If men knew themselves, God would heal and pardon 
them. Ne convertantur et sanem eos, et dimittantur eis 
peccata^ 

780 

Jesus Christ never condemned without hearing. To 
Judas: Amice, ad quid venistif' To him that had not on 
the wedding garment, the same. 

781 

The types of the completeness of the Redemption, as that 
the sun gives light to all, indicate only completeness; but 
l^the types'] of exclusions, as of the Jews elected to the ex- 
clusion of the Gentiles, indicate exclusion. 

" Jesus Christ the Redeemer of all." — Yes, for He has 
offered, like a man who has ransomed all those who were 
willing to come to Him. If any die on the way, it is their 
misfortune; but, so far as He was concerned. He offered 
them redemption. — That holds good in this example, where 
he who ransoms and he who prevents death are two persons, 
but not of Jesus Christ, who does both these things. — No, for 
Jesus Christ, in the quality of Redeemer, is not perhaps 
Master of all; and thus, in so far as it is in Him, He is the 
Redeemer of all. 

When it is said that Jesus Christ did not die for all, you 
take undue advantage of a fault in men who at once apply 
this exception to themselves; and this is to favour despair, 
instead of turning them from it to favour hope. For men 
thus accustom themselves to inward virtues by outward 
customs. 

782 

The victory over death. What is a man advantaged if he 
gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Whosoever 
will save his soul, shall lose it. 

" I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil." 

^ Mark iv. 12. ^2 Matt. xxvi. 50. 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 277 

" Lambs took not away the sins of the world, but I am 
the lamb which taketh away the sins." 

" Moses gave you not the bread from heaven. Moses 
hath not led you out of captivity, and made you truly free." 

783 

. . . Then Jesus Christ comes to tell men that they have 
no other enemies but themselves; that it is their passions 
which keep them apart from God; that He comes to destroy 
these, and give them His grace, so as to make of them all 
one Holy Church; that He comes to bring back into this 
Church the heathen and Jews; that He comes to destroy 
the idols of the former and the superstition of the latter. 
To this all men are opposed, not only from the natural 
opposition of lust; but, above all, the kings of the earth, as 
had been foretold, join together to destroy this religion at 
its birth. (Proph.: Qiiare fermerunt gentes . , . reges 
terrcB^ . . . adversiis Christum.) 

All that is great on earth is united together; the learned, 
the wise, the kings. The first write; the second condemn; 
the last kill. And notwithstanding all these oppositions, 
these men, simple and weak, resist all these powers, subdue 
even these kings, these learned men and these sages, and 
remove idolatry from all the earth. And all this is done by 
the power which had foretold it. 

784 

Jesus Christ would not have the testimony of devils, nor 
of those who were not called, but of God and John the 
Baptist. 

785 

I consider Jesus Christ in all persons and in ourselves: 
Jesus Christ as a Father in His Father, Jesus Christ as a 
Brother in His Brethren, Jesus Christ as poor in the poor, 
Jesus Christ as rich in the rich, Jesus Christ as Doctor and 
Priest in priests, Jesus Christ as Sovereign in princes, &c. 
For by His glory He is all that is great, being God; and by 
•• Psalms ii. 1-2. (Taken as a prophecy of Christ.) 



278 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

His mortal life He is all that is poor and abject. Therefore 
He has taken this unhappy condition, so that He could 
be in all persons, and the model of all conditions. 

786 

Jesus Christ is an obscurity (according to what the world 
calls obscurity), such that historians, writing only of im- 
portant matters of states, have hardly noticed Him. 

787 

On the fact that neither Josephus, nor Tacitus, nor other 
historians have spoken of Jesus Christ. — So far is this from 
telling against Christianity, that on the contrary it tells for 
it. For it is certain that Jesus Christ has existed; that His 
religion has made a great talk; and that these persons were 
not ignorant of it. Thus it is plain that they purposely 
concealed it, or that, if they did speak of it, their account 
has been suppressed or changed. 

788 

** I have reserved me seven thousand." I love the worship- 
pers unknown to the world and to the very prophets. 

789 

As Jesus Christ remained unknown among men, so His 
truth remains among common opinions without external 
difference. Thus the Eucharist among ordinary bread. 

790 

Jesus would not be slain without the forms of justice ; for 
it is far more ignominious to die by justice than by an 
unjust sedition. 

791 

The false justice of Pilate only serves to make Jesus 
Christ suffer ; for he causes Him to be scourged by his false 
justice, and afterwards puts Him to death. It would have 
been better to have put Him to death at once. Thus it is 



PROOFS OP JESUS CHRIST 279 

with the falsely just. They do good and evil works to please 
the world, and to show that they are not altogether of 
Jesus Christ; for they are ashamed of Him. And at last, 
under great temptations and on great occasions, they kill 
Him. 

792 

What man ever had more renown? The whole Jewish 
people foretell Him before His coming. The Gentile people 
worship Him after His coming. The two peoples. Gentile 
and Jewish, regard Him as their centre. 

And yet what man enjoys this renown less? Of thirty- 
three years, He lives thirty without appearing. For three 
years He passes as an impostor; the priests and the chief 
people reject Him; His friends and His nearest relatives 
despise Him. Finally, He dies, betrayed by one of His own 
disciples, denied by another, and abandoned by all. 

What part, then, has He in this renown? Never had man 
so much renown; never had man more ignominy. All that 
renown has served only for us, to render us capable of 
recognising Him; and He had none of it for Himself. 

793 

The infinite distance between body and mind is a symbol 
of the infinitely more infinite distance between mind and 
charity; for charity is supernatural. 

All the glory of greatness has no lustre for people who 
are in search of understanding. 

The greatness of clever men is invisible to kings, to the 
rich, to chiefs, and to all the worldly great. 

The greatness of wisdom, which is nothing if not of God, 
is invisible to the carnal-minded and to the clever. These 
are three orders differing in kind. 

Great geniuses have their power, their glory, their great- 
ness, their victory, their lustre, and have no need of worldly 
greatness, with v/hich they are not in keeping. They are 
seen, not by the eye, but by the mind ; this is sufficient. 

The saints have their power, their glory, their victory, 
their lustre, and need no worldly or intellectual greatness, 
with which they have no affinity; for these neither add any- 



280 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

thing to them, nor take away anything from them. They 
are seen of God and the angels, and not of the body, nor of 
the curious mind. God is enough for them. 

Archimedes, apart from his rank, would have the same 
veneration. He fought no battles for the eyes to feast upon ; 
but he has given his discoveries to all men. Oh! how bril- 
liant he was to the mind! 

Jesus Christ, without riches, and without any external 
exhibition of knowledge, is in His own order of holiness. 
He did not invent; He did not reign. But He was humble, 
patient, holy, holy to God, terrible to devils, without any 
sin. Oh! in what great pomp, and in what wonderful 
splendour. He is come to the eyes of the heart, which per- 
ceive wisdom ! 

It would have been useless for Archimedes to have acted 
the prince in his books on geometry, although he was a prince. 

It would have been useless for our Lord Jesus Christ to 
come like a king, in order to shine forth in His kingdom of 
holiness. But He came there appropriately in the glory of 
His own order. 

It is most absurd to take offence at the lowliness of Jesus 
Christ, as if His lowliness were in the same order as the 
greatness which He came to manifest. If we consider this 
greatness in His life, in His passion, in His obscurity, in 
His death, in the choice of His disciples, in their desertion, 
in His secret resurrection, and the rest, we shall see it to be 
so immense, that we shall have no reason for being offended 
at a lowliness which is not of that order. 

But there are some who can only admire worldly great- 
ness, as though there were no intellectual greatness; and 
others who only admire intellectual greatness, as though 
there were not infinitely higher things in wisdom. 

All bodies, the firmament, the stars, the earth and its 
kingdoms, are not equal to the lowest mind; for mxind knows 
all these and itself ; and these bodies nothing. 

All bodies together, and all minds together, and all their 
products, are not equal to the least feeling of charity. This 
is of an order infinitely more exalted. 

From all bodies together, we cannot obtain one little 
thought; this is impossible, and of another order. From all 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 281 

bodies and minds, we cannot produce a feeling of true char- 
ity; this is impossible, and of another and supernatural order. 

794 

Why did Jesus Christ not come in a visible manner, in- 
stead of obtaining testimony of Himself from preceding 
prophecies? Why did He cause Himself to be foretold in 
types ? 

795 
If Jesus Christ had only come to sanctify, all Scripture 
and all things would tend to that end; and it would be quite 
easy to convince unbelievers. If Jesus Christ had only 
come to blind, all His conduct would be confused; and we 
would have no means of convincing unbelievers. But as 
he came in sanctificationem ef in scandahimf* as Isaiah says, 
we cannot convince unbelievers, and they cannot convince 
us. But by this very fact we convince them; since we say 
that in his whole conduct there is no convincing proof on 
one side or the other. 

796 

Jesus Christ does not say that He is not of Nazareth, in 
order to leave the wicked in their blindness; nor that He 
is not Joseph's son. 

797 

Proofs of Jesus Christ. — Jesus Christ said great things 
so simply, that it seems as though He had not thought them 
great ; and yet so clearly that we easily see what He thought 
of them. This clearness, joined to this simplicity, is wonderful. 

798 

The style of the gospel is admirable in so many ways, and 
among the rest in hurling no invectives against the perse- 
cutors and enemies of Jesus Christ. For there is no such 
invective in any of the historians against Judas, Pilate, or 
any of the Jews. 

If this moderation of the writers of the Gospels had been 
assumed, as well as many other traits of so beautiful a char- 

^ Isaiah viii. 14. 



282 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

acter, and they had only assumed it to attract notice, even 
if they had not dared to draw attention to it themselves, 
they would not have failed to secure friends, who would 
have made such remarks to their advantage. But as they 
acted thus without pretence, and from wholly disinterested 
motives, they did not point it out to any one; and I believe 
that many such facts have not been noticed till now, which 
is evidence of the natural disinterestedness with which the 
thing has been done. 

799 

An artisan who speaks of wealth, a lawyer who speaks of 
war, of royalty, &c. ; but the rich man rightly speaks of 
wealth, a king speaks indifferently of a great gift he has 
just made, and God rightly speaks of God. 



800 

Who has taught the evangelists the qualities of a perfectly 
heroic soul, that they paint it so perfectly in Jesus Christ? 
Why do they make Him weak in His agony? Do they not 
know how to paint a resolute death? Yes, for the same 
Saint Luke paints the death of Saint Stephen as braver 
than that of Jesus Christ. 

They make Him therefore capable of fear, before the 
necessity of dying has come, and then altogether brave. 

But when they make Him so troubled, it is when He afflicts 
Himself; and when men afflict Him, He is altogether strong. 



801 

Proof of Jesus Christ. — The supposition that the apostles 
were impostors is very absurd. Let us think it out. Let 
us imagine those twelve men, assembled after the death of 
Jesus Christ, plotting to say that He was risen. By this 
they attack all the powers. The heart of man is strangely 
inclined to fickleness, to change, to promises, to gain. How- 
ever little any of them might have been led astray by all 
these attractions, nay more, by the fear of prisons, tortures, 
and death, they were lost. Let us follow up this thought. 



PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST 283 



802 

The apostles were either deceived or deceivers. Either 
supposition has difficulties; for it is not possible to mistake 
a man raised from the dead . . . 

While Jesus Christ was with them, He could sustain 
them. But, after that, if He did not appear to them, who 
inspired them to act? 



SECTION XIII 
The Miracles 

803 

rriHE beginning. — Miracles enable us to judge of doc- 

/ trine, and doctrine enables us to judge of miracles. 

There are false miracles and true. There must be 
a distinction, in order to know them; otherwise they would 
be useless. Now they are not useless; on the contrary, they 
are fundamental. Now the rule which is given to us must 
be such, that it does not destroy the proof which the true 
miracles give of the truth, which is the chief end of the 
miracles. 

Moses has given two rules: that the prediction does not 
come to pass (Deut. xviii.), and that they do not lead to 
idolatry- (Deut. xiii.) ; and Jesus Christ one. 

If doctrine regulates miracles, miracles are useless for 
doctrine. 

If miracles regulate . , . 

Objection to the rule. — The distinction of the times. One 
rule during the time of Moses, another at present. 

804 

Miracle. — It is an effect, which exceeds the natural power 
of the means which are employed for it; and what is not 
a miracle is an effect, which does not exceed the natural 
power of the means which are employed for it. Thus, those 
who heal by invocation of the devil do not work a miracle; 
for that does not exceed the natural power of the devil. 
But . 

805 

The two fundamentals; one inward, the other outward; 
grace and miracles; both supernatural. 

284 



THE MTHACLES 285 



806 

Miracles and truth are necessary, because it is necessary 
to convince the entire man, in body and soul. 

807 

In all times, either men have spoken of the true God, or 
the true God has spoken to men. 

808 

Jesus Christ has verified that He was the Messiah, never 
in verifying His doctrine by Scripture and the prophecies, 
but always by His miracles. 

He proves by a miracle that He remits sins. 

Rejoice not in your miracles, said Jesus Christ, but be- 
cause your names are written in heaven. 

H they believe not Moses, neither will they believe one 
risen from the dead. 

Nicodemus recognises by His miracles that His teaching 
is of God. Scimns quia venisti a Deo magister; nemo enim 
potest hcBC signa facere quce tu facis nisi Deus fuerit cum eo} 
He does not judge of the miracles by the teaching, but of 
the teaching by the miracles. 

The Jews had a doctrine of God as we have one of Jesus 
Christ, and confirmed by miracles. They were forbidden 
to believe every worker of miracles; and they were further 
commanded to have recourse to the chief priests, and to rely 
on them. 

And thus, in regard to their prophets, they had all those 
reasons which we have for refusing to believe the workers 
of miracles. 

And yet they were very sinful in rejecting the prophets, 
and Jesus Christ, because of their miracles ; and they would 
not have been culpable, if they had not seen the miracles. 
Nisi fecissem , , . peccatiim non haherent} Therefore 
all belief rests upon miracles. 

Prophecy is not called miracle; as Saint John speaks of 
the first miracle in Cana, and then of what Jesus Christ says 
*John iiu 2. «Jc4in xv. 24. 



286 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

to the woman of Samaria, when He reveals to her all her 
hidden life. Then He heals the centurion's son; and Saint 
John calls this "the second miracle." 

809 

The combinations of miracles. 

810 

The second miracle can suppose the first, but the first can- 
not suppose the second. 

811 

Had it not been for the miracles, there would have been 
no sin in not believing in Jesus Christ. 

812 

I should not be a Christian, but for the miracles, said 
Saint Augustine. 

813 

Miracles. — How I hate those who make men doubt of 
miracles! Montaigne speaks of them as he should in two 
places. In one, we see how careful he is; and yet, in the 
other he believes, and makes sport of unbelievers. 

However it may be, the Church is without proofs if they 
are right. 

814 

Montaigne against miracles. 
Montaigne for miracles. 

815 

It is not possible to have a reasonable belief against 
miracles. 

816 

Unbelievers the most credulous. They believe the miracles 
of Vespasian, in order not to believe those of Moses. 



THE MIRACLES 287 

817 

Title: How it happens that men believe so many liars, 
who say that they have seen miracles, and do not believe 
any of those who say that they have secrets to make men 
immortal, or restore youth to them. — Having considered how 
it happens that so great credence is given to so many im- 
postors, who say they have remedies, often to the length 
of men putting their lives into their hands, it has appeared 
to me that the true cause is that there are true remedies. 
For it would not be possible that there should be so many 
false remedies, and that so much faith should be placed in 
them, if there were none true. If there had never been any 
remedy for any ill, and all ills had been incurable, it is 
impossible that men should have imagined that they could 
give remedies, and still more impossible that so many others 
should have believed those who boasted of having remedies; 
in the same way as did a man boast of preventing death, no 
one would believe him, because there is no example of this. 
But as there were a number of remedies found to be true 
by the very knowledge of the greatest men, the belief of 
men is thereby induced; and, this being known to be pos- 
sible, it has been therefore concluded that it was. For peo- 
ple commonly reason thus: "A thing is possible, there- 
fore it is"; because the thing cannot be denied generally, 
since there are particular effects which are true, the people, 
who cannot distinguish which among these particular effects 
are true, believe them all. In the same way, the reason 
why so many false effects are credited to the moon, is that 
there are some true, as the tide. 

It IS the same with prophecies, miracles, divination by 
dreams, sorceries, &c. For if there had been nothing true in 
all this, men would have believed nothing of them ; and thus, 
instead of concluding that there are no true miracles because 
there are so many false, we must, on the contrary, say that 
there certainly are true miracles, since there are false, and 
that there are false miracles only because some are true. 
We must reason in the same way about religion ; for it would 
not be possible that men should have imagined so many 
false religions, if there had not been a true one. The 



288 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

objection to this is that savages have a religion; but the 
answer is that they have heard the true spoken of, as appears 
by the deluge, circumcision, the cross of Saint Andrew, &c. 



8i8 

Having considered how it comes that there are so many 
false miracles, false revelations, sorceries, &c., it has seemed 
to me that the true cause is that there are some true; for it 
would not be possible that there should be so many false 
miracles, if there were none true, nor so many false revela- 
tions, if there were none true, nor so many false religions, 
if there were not one true. For if there had never been all 
this, it is almost impossible that men should have imagined 
it, and still more impossible that so many others should 
have believed it. But as there have been very great things 
true, and as they have been believed by great men, this im- 
pression has been the cause that nearly everybody is ren- 
dered capable of believing also the false. And thus, instead 
of concluding that there are no true miracles, since there 
are so many false, it must be said, on the contrary, that 
there are true miracles, since there are so many false; and 
that there are false ones only because there are true; and 
that in the same way there are false religions because there 
is one true. — Objection to this: savages have a religion. But 
this is because they have heard the true spoken of, as appears 
by the cross of Saint Andrew, the deluge, circumcision, &c. 
— This arises from the fact that the human mind, finding 
itself inclined to that side by the truth, becomes thereby 
susceptible of all the falsehoods of this , . , 

819 

Jeremiah, xxiii. 32. The miracles of the false prophets. 
In the Hebrew and Vatable' they are the tricks. 

Miracle does not always signify miracle, i Sam., xiv. 15; 
miracle signifies fear, and is so in the Hebrew. The same 
evidently in Job, xxxiii. 7 ; and also Isaiah, xxi. 4 ; Jeremiah, 
xliv. 12. Portentum signifies simulacrum, Jeremiah, 1. 38; 

•Professor of Hebrew in the College Royal in the i6th Century. 



THE MIBACLES 289 

and it is so in the Hebrew and Vatable. Isaiah, viii. i8. 
Jesus Christ says that He and His will be in miracles. 

820 

H the devil favoured the doctrine which destroys him, 
he would be divided against himself, as Jesus Christ said. 
If God favoured the doctrine which destroys the Church, 
He would be divided against Himself. Omne regnum 
divisum.^ For Jesus Christ wrought against the devil, and 
destroyed his power over the heart, of which exorcism is 
the symbolisation, in order to establish the kingdom of God. 
And thus He adds, Si in digito Dei regmim Dei ad vos' 

821 

There is a great difference between tempting and leading 
into error. God tempts, but He does not lead into error. 
To tempt is to afford opportunities, which impose no neces- 
sity; if men do not love God, they will do a certain thing. 
To lead into error is to place a man under the necessity 
of inferring and following out what is untrue. 

822 

Abraham and Gideon are above revelation. The Jews 
blinded themselves in judging of miracles by the Scripture. 
God has never abandoned His true worshippers. 

I prefer to follow Jesus Christ than any other, because 
He has miracle, prophecy, doctrine, perpetuity, &c. 

The Donatists. No miracle which obliges them to say it 
is the devil. 

The more we particularise God, Jesus Christ, the 
Church . . . 

823 

If there were no false miracles, there would be certainty. 
If there were no rule to judge of them, miracles would be 
useless, and there would be no reason for believing. 

Now there is, humanly speaking, no human certainty, but 
we have reason. 

* Matt. xli. 25. s Luke xi. 20. 

HC XLVm (/) 



290 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

824 

Either God has confounded the false miracles, or He has 
foretold them ; and in both ways He has raised Himself 
above what is supernatural with respect to us, and has 
raised us to it. 

825 

Miracles serve not to convert, but to condemn. (Q. 113, 
A. 10, Ad, 2.) 

826 

Reasons why we do not believe. 

John, xii. 37. Cum autem tanta signa fecisset, non crede^ 
bant in eum, ut senna Isayce impteretur. Exccecavit, &c. 

Hcec dixit Isaias, qiiando vidit gloriam ejus et locutus est 
de eo, 

Judcei signa petunt et Grceci sapientiam qucerunt, nos 
autem Jesum crucifixum. Sed plenum signis, sed plenum 
sapientia; vos autem Christum non crucifixum et religionem 
sine miraculis et sine sapientia.^ 

What makes us not believe in the true miracles, is want 
of love. John: Sed vos non creditis, quia non estis ex 
ovibusJ What makes us believe the false is want of love. 
I Thess. ii. 

The foundation of religion. It is the miracles. What 
then ? Does God speak against miracles, against the founda- 
tions of the faith which we have in Him? 

If there is a God, faith in God must exist on earth. 
Now the miracles of Jesus Christ are not foretold by Anti- 
christ, but the miracles of Antichrist are foretold by Jesus 
Christ. And so if Jesus Christ were not the Messiah, He 
would have indeed led into error; but Antichrist cannot 
surely lead into error. V/hen Jesus Christ foretold the 
miracles of Antichrist, did He think of destroying faith in 
His own miracles? 

Moses foretold Jesus Christ, and bade to follow Him. 
Jesus Christ foretold Antichrist, and forbade to follow him. 

It was impossible that in the time of Moses men should 
• I Cor. L Z2, * John x. 26. 



THE MIRACLES 291 

keep their faith for Antichrist, who was unknown to them. 
But it is quite easy, in the time of Antichrist, to believe in 
Jesus Christ, already known. 

There is no reason for believing in Antichrist, which 
there is not for believing in Jesus Christ. But there are 
reasons for believing in Jesus Christ, which there are not 
for believing in the other. 



827 

Judges xiii. 23: "If the Lord were pleased to kill us. 
He would not have shewed us all these things." 

Hezekiah, Sennacherib. 

Jeremiah. Hananiah, the false prophet, dies in seven 
months. 

2 Mace. iii. The temple, ready for pillage, miraculously 
succored. — 2 Mace. xv. 

I Kings, xvii. The widow to Elijah, who had restored 
her son, " By this I know that thy words are true." 

I Kings, xviii. Elijah with the prophets of Baal. 

In the dispute concerning the true God and the truth of 
religion, there has never happened any miracle on the side 
of error, and not of truth. 

828 

Opposition. — Abel, Cain; Moses, the Magicians; Elijah, 
the false prophets: Jeremiah, Hananiah; Micaiah, the false 
prophets; Jesus Christ, the Pharisees; St. Paul, Bar-jesus; 
the Apostles, the Exorcists; Christians, unbelievers; Catho- 
lics, heretics; Elijah, Enoch; Antichrist. 

829 

Jesus Christ says that the Scriptures testify of Him. But 
He does not point out in what respect. 

Even the prophecies could not prove Jesus Christ during 
His life; and so, men would not have been culpable for not 
believing in Him before His death, had the miracles not 
sufficed without doctrine. Now those who did not believe 
in Him, when He was still alive, were sinners, as He said 



292 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Himself, and without excuse. Therefore they must have 
had proof beyond doubt, which they resisted. Now, they 
had not the prophecies, but only the miracles. Therefore 
the latter suffice, when the doctrine is not inconsistent with 
them; and they ought to be believed. 

John, vii. '40. Dispute among the Jews as among the 
Christians of to-day. Some believed in Jesus Christ; others 
believed Him not, because of the prophecies which said that 
He should be born in Bethlehem. They should have con- 
sidered more carefully whether He was not. For His mir- 
acles being convincing, they should have been quite sure of 
these supposed contradictions of His teaching to Scripture; 
and this obscurity did not excuse, but blinded them. Thus 
those who refuse to believe in the miracles in the present 
day on account of a supposed contradiction, which is un- 
real, are not excused. 

The Pharisees said to the people, who believed in Him, 
because of His miracles : " This people who knoweth not 
the law are cursed. But have any of the rulers or of the 
Pharisees believed on him? For we know that out of Gal- 
ilee ariseth no prophet." Nicodemus answered : " Doth our 
law judge any man before it hear him, [and specially, such 
a man who works such miracles] ?" 

830 
The prophecies were ambiguous; they are no longer so. 

831 

The five propositions were ambiguous; they are no longer 
so. 

832 

Miracles are no longer necessary, because we have had 
them already. But when tradition is no longer minded ; when 
the Pope alone is offered to us; when he has been imposed 
upon; and when the true source of truth, which is tradi- 
tion, is thus excluded; and the Pope, who is its guardian, is 
biassed; the truth is no longer free to appear. Then, as men 



THE MIRACLES 293 

speak no longer of truth, truth itself must speak to men. 
This is what happened in the time of Arius. (Miracles un- 
der Diocletian and under Arius.) 

833 

Miracle. — The people conclude this of themselves; but 
if the reason of it must be given to you , . . 

It is unfortunate to be in exception to the rule. The 
same must be strict, and opposed to exception. But yet, as 
it is certain that there are exceptions to a rule, our judgment 
must, though strict, be just. 

834 

John, vi. 26: Non quia vidisti signum, sed quia saturati 
estis. 

Those who follow Jesus Christ because of His miracles 
honour His power in all the miracles which it produces. 
But those who, making profession to follow Him because of 
His miracles, follow Him in fact only because He comforts 
them and satisfies them with worldly blessings, discredit His 
miracles, when they are opposed to their own comforts. 

John, ix: Noii est hie homo a Deo, quia sabbatum non 
custodit. Alii: Quomodo potest homo peccator hcec signa 
facere? 

Which is the most clear? 

This house is not of God; for they do not there believe 
that the five propositions are in Jansenlus. Others : This house 
is of God ; for in it there are wrought strange miracles. 

Which is the most clear? 

Tu quid dicisf Dico quia propheta est. — Nisi esset hie a 
Deo, non poterat facere quidquam.* 

835 

In the Old Testament, when they will turn you from God. 
In the New, when they will turn you from Jesus Christ. 
These are the occasions for excluding particular miracles 
from belief. No others need be excluded, 
sjohn ix. 17, 33. 



294 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Does it therefore follow that they would have the right 
to exclude all the prophets who came to them? No; they 
would have sinned in not excluding those who denied God, 
and would have sinned in excluding those who did not deny 
God. 

So soon, then, as we see a miracle, we must either assent 
to it, or have striking proofs to the contrary. We must see 
if it denies a God, or Jesus Christ, or the Church. 

836 

There is a great difference between not being for Jesus 
Christ and saying so, and not being for Jesus Christ and 
pretending to be so. The one party can do miracles, not the 
others. For it is clear of the one party, that they are op- 
posed to the truth, but not of the others ; and thus miracles 
are clearer. 

837 

That we must love one God only is a thing so evident, 
that it does not require miracles to prove it. 

838 

Jesus Christ performed miracles, then the apostles, and 
the first saints in great number; because the prophecies 
not being yet accomplished but in the process of being 
accomplished by them, the miracles alone bore witness to 
them. It was foretold that the Messiah should convert the 
nations. How could this prophecy be fulfilled without the 
conversion of the nations? And how could the nations be 
converted to the Messiah, if they did not see this final effect 
of the prophecies which prove Him? Therefore, till He 
had died, risen again, and converted the nations, all was 
not accomplished; and bo miracles were needed during all 
this time. Now they are no longer needed against the Jews ; 
for the acoomplished prophecies constitute a lasting miracle. 

839 
" Though ye believe not Me, believe at least the works" 
He refers them, as it were, to the strongest proof. 



THE MIRACLES 295 

It had been told to the Jews, as well as to Christians, that 
they should not always believe the prophets; but yet the 
Pharisees and Scribes are greatly concerned about His 
miracles, and try to show that they are false, or wrought 
by the devil. For they must needs be convinced, if they ac- 
knowledge that they are of God. 

At the present day we are not troubled to make this 
distinction. Still it is very easy to do: those who deny 
neither God nor Jesus Christ do no miracles which are not 
certain. Nemo facit virtutem in nomine meo, et cito possit 
de me male loqui* 

But we have not to draw this distinction. Here is a 
sacred relic. Here is a thorn from the crown of the 
Saviour of the world, over whom the prince of this world 
has no power, which works miracles by the peculiar power 
of the blood shed for us. Now God Himself chooses this 
house in order to display conspicuously therein His power. 

These are not men who do miracles by an unknown and 
doubtful virtue, which makes a decision difficult for us. 
It is God Himself. It is the instrument of the Passion of 
His only Son, who, being in many places, chooses this, an/ 
makes men come from all quarters there to receive thes 
miraculous alleviations in their weaknesses. 



840 

The Church has three kinds of enemies: the Jews, wlw 
have never been of her body; the heretics, who have with- 
drawn itom it; and the evil Christians, who rend her from 
within. 

These three kinds of different adversaries usually attack 
her in different ways. But here they attack her in one and the 
same way. As they are all without miracles, and as the 
Church has always had miracles against them, they have 
all had the same interest in evading them; and they all 
make use of this excuse, that doctrine must not be judged by 
miracles, but miracles by doctrine. There were two parties 
among those who heard Jesus Christ: those who followed 
His teaching on account of His miracles: others who said 

*Mark ix. 39. 



296 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

. . . There were two parties in the time of Calvin , . , 
There are now the Jesuits, &c. 

841 

Miracles furnish the test in matters of doubt, between 
Jews and heathens, Jews and Christians, Catholics and here- 
tics, and slandered and slanderers, between the two crosses. 

But miracles would be useless to heretics ; for the Church, 
authorised by miracles which have already obtained belief, 
tells us that they have not the true faith. There is no doubt 
that they are not in it, since the first miracles of the Church 
exclude belief in theirs. Thus there is miracle against 
miracle, both the first and greatest being on the side of the 
Church. 

These nuns, astonished at what is said, that they are in the 
way of perdition; that their confessors are leading them to 
Geneva; that they suggest to them that Jesus Christ is not 
in the Eucharist, nor on the right hand of the Father; know 
that all this is false, and therefore offer themselves to God 
in this state. Vide si via iniquitatis in me est^'^ What hap- 
pens thereupon? This place, which is said to be the temple 
of the devil, God makes His own temple. It is said that the 
children must be taken away from it. God heals them there. 
It is said that it is the arsenal of hell. God makes of it the 
sanctuary of His grace. Lastly, they are threatened with all 
the fury and vengeance of heaven; and God overwhelms 
them with favours. A man would need to have lost his 
senses to conclude from this that they are therefore in the 
way of perdition. 

(We have without doubt the same signs as Saint 
Athanasius.) 

842 

Si fu es Christus, die nobis. 

Opera quce ego facio in nomine patris met, hcec testimonium 
perhibent de me. Sed vos non creditis quia non estis ex 
ovibus meis. Oves mei vocem meam audiunt.^^ 

John, vi. 30. Quod ergo tu facis signum ut videamus et 
vredamus tibif — Non dicunt: Quam doctrinam prcedicas? 

»• Psalms cxxxix. 24. ^ Luke xxii. 67. 



THE MIRACLES 297 

Nemo potest facere signa quce tu facts nisi Deus. 

2 Mace. XIV. 15. Deus qui signis evidentibus siiam 
portionem protegif. 

Volumus sig-num videre de cculo, tentantes eum. Luke, 
xi, 16. 

Generatio prava signum qiiccrit; et non dabitur.^ 

Et ingemiscens ait: Quid generatio ista signum qucerit? 
(Mark, viii. 12.) They asked a sign with an evil intention. 

Et non poterat facere}^ And yet he promises them the 
sign of Jonah, the great and wonderful miracle of his 
resurrection. 

Nisi videritis signa, non creditis}* He does not blame 
them for not believing unless there are miracles, but for not 
believing unless they are themselves spectators of them. 

Antichrist in signis mendacibus, says Saint Paul, 2 
Thess. ii. 

Secundum operationem Satance, in seductione iis qui 
pereunt et quod charitatem veritatis non receperunt ut salvi 
Herent, ideo mittet illis Deus operationes erroris ut credant 
mendacio^ 

As in the passage of Moses : Tentat enim vos Deus, utrum 
diligatis eum. 

Ecce prcedixi vobis: vos ergo videte. 

843 
Here is not the country of truth. She wanders unknown 
amongst men. God has covered her with a veil, which 
leaves her unrecognised by those who do not hear her voice. 
Room is opened for blasphemy, even against the truths that 
are at least very likely. If the truths of the Gospel are 
published the contrary is published too, and the questions 
are obscured, so that the people cannot distinguish. And 
they ask, " What have you to make you believed rather 
than others? What sign do you give? You have only 
words, and so have we. If you had miracles, good and well/' 
That doctrine ought to be supported by miracles is a truth, 
which they misuse in order to revile doctrine. And if 
miracles happen, it is said that miracles are not enough 
?-2Matt. xii. 39. "Mark vi. 5. "John iv. 8, 48. "Thess. ii. 9-1 1. 



298 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

without doctrine; and this is another truth, which they mis- 
use in order to revile miracles. 

Jesus Christ cured the man born blind, and performed a 
number of miracles on the Sabbath day. In this way He 
blinded the Pharisees, who said that miracles must be judged 
by doctrine. 

"We have Moses: but, as for this fellow, we know not 
from whence he is." It is wonderful that you know not 
whence He is, and yet He does such miracles. 

Jesus Christ spoke neither against God, nor against Moses. 

Antichrist and the false prophets, foretold by both Testa- 
ments, will speak openly against God and against Jesus 
Christ. Who is not hidden . . . God would not allow him, 
who would be a secret enemy, to do miracles openly. 

In a public dispute where the two parties profess to be for 
God, for Jesus Christ, for the Church, miracles have never 
been on the side of the false Christians, and the other side 
has never been without a miracle. 

" He hath a devil." John, x. 21. And others said, *' Can 
a devil open the eyes of the blind?" 

The proofs which Jesus Christ and the apostles draw from 
Scripture are not conclusive; for they say only that Moses 
foretold that a prophet should come. But they do not 
thereby prove that this is He; and that is the whole ques- 
tion. These passages therefore serve only to show that 
they are not contrary to Scripture, and that there appears 
no inconsistency, but not that there is agreement. Now 
this is enough, namely, exclusion of inconsistency, along 
with miracles. 

There is a mutual duty between God and men. We must 
pardon Him this saying : Quid debui ? " Accuse me," said 
God in Isaiah. 

" God must fulfil His promises," &c. 

Men owe it to God to accept the religion which He sends. 
(God owes it to men not to lead them into error. Now, 
they would be led into error, if the workers of miracles 
announced a doctrine which should not appear evidently 
false to the light of common sense, and if a greater worker 
of miracles had not already warned men not to believe 
them. 



THE MIRACLES 299 

Thus, if there were divisions in the Church, and the 
Arians, for example, who declared themselves founded on 
Scripture just as the Catholics, had done miracles, and not 
the Catholics, men should have been led into error. 

For, as a man, who announces to us the secrets of God, 
is not worthy to be believed on his private authority, and 
that is why the ungodly doubt him; so when a man, as a 
token of the communion which he has with God, raises the 
dead, foretells the future, removes the seas, heals the sick, 
there is none so wicked as not to bow to him, and the in- 
credulity of Pharaoh and the Pharisees is the effect of a 
supernatural obduracy. 

When therefore we see miracles and a doctrine not sus- 
picious, both on one side, there is no difficulty. But when 
we see miracles and suspicious doctrine on the same side, 
we must then see which is the clearest. Jesus Christ was 
suspected. 

Barjesus blinded. The power of God surpasses that of 
His enemies. 

The Jewish exorcists beaten by the devils, saying, "Jesus 
I know, and Paul I know ; but who are ye ? '^ 

Miracles are for doctrine, and not doctrine for miracles. 

If the miracles are true, shall we be able to persuade 
men of all doctrine? No; for this will not come to pass. 
Si angelus . . ." 

Rule: we must judge of doctrine by miracles; we must 
judge of miracles by doctrine. All this is true, but contains 
no contradiction. 

For we must distinguish the times. 

How glad you are to know the general rules, thinking 
thereby to set up dissension, and render all useless ! We 
shall prevent you, my father; truth is one and constant. 

It is impossible, from the duty of God to men, that a man, 
hiding his evil teaching, and only showing the good, saying 
that he conforms to God and the Church, should do miracles 
so as to instil insensibly a false and subtle doctrine. This 
cannot happen. 

And still less, that God, who knows the heart, should 
perform miracles in favour of such an one. 
MGalatiaas i. & 



300 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

844 

The three marks of religion: perpetuity, a good life, mir- 
acles. They destroy perpetuity by their doctrine of prob- 
ability; a good life by their morals; miracles by destroying 
either their truth or the conclusions to be drawn from 
them. 

If we believe them, the Church will have nothing to do 
with perpetuity, holiness, and miracles. The heretics deny 
them, or deny the conclusions to be drawn from them; 
they do the same. But one would need to have no sincerity 
in order to deny them, or again to lose one's senses in 
order to deny the conclusions to be drawn from them. 

Nobody has ever suffered martyrdom for the miracles 
which he says he has seen; for the folly of men goes per- 
haps to the length of martyrdom, for those which the Turks 
believe by tradition, but not for those which they have seen. 

S45 
The heretics have always attacked these three marks, 
which they have not. 

846 

First objection : " An angel from heaven. We must not 
judge of truth by miracles, but of miracles by truth. There- 
fore the miracles are useless." 

Now they are of use, and they must not be in opposition 
to the truth. Therefore what Father Lingende has said, 
that " God will not permit that a miracle may lead into 
error ..." 

When there shall be a controversy in the same Church, 
miracle will decide. 

Second objection: "But Antichrist will do miracles." 

The magicians of Pharaoh did not entice to error. Thus 
we cannot say to Jesus respecting Antichrist, " You have 
led me into error." For Antichrist will do them against 
Jesus Christ, and so they cannot lead into error. Either 
God will not permit false miracles, or He will procure 
greater. 



THE MIRACLES 301 

[Jesus Christ has existed since the beginning of the 
world: this is more impressive than all the miracles of 
Antichrist.] 

If in the same Church there should happen a miracle 
on the side of those in error, men would be led into error. 
Schism is visible; a miracle is visible. But schism is more 
a sign of error than a miracle is a sign of truth. Therefore 
a miracle cannot lead into error. 

But apart from schism, error is not so obvious as a miracle 
is obvious. Therefore a miracle could lead into error. 

Ubi est Dens tuus?^'' Miracles show Him, and are a light. 

847 

One of the anthems for Vespers at Christmas: Exortum 
est in tenchris lumen rectis corde.^^ 

848 

If the compassion of God is so great that He instructs 
us to our benefit, even when He hides Himself, what light 
ought we not to expect from Him when He reveals Himself? 

849 

Will Est et non est^^ be received in faith itself as well as 
in miracles? And if it is inseparable in the others . . . 

When Saint Xavier works miracles. — [Saint Hilary. Ye 
wretches, who oblige us to speak of miracles.] 

Unjust judges, make not your own laws on the moment; 
judge by those which are established, and by yourselves. 
Vce qui conditis leges iniqiias^^ 

Miracles endless, false. 

In order to weaken your adversaries, you disarm the whole 
Church. 

If they say that our salvation depends upon God, they are 
" heretics." If they say that they are obedient to the 
Pope, that is " hypocrisy." If they are ready to subscribe 
to all the articles, that is not enough. If they say that a 
man must not be killed for an apple, "they attack the mor- 

^^ Psalms xHi. 3. ^^ Ps. cxii. 4. ** " Is and is not.** 
80 Isaiah x. i. 



302 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

ality of CathoIicSe" If miracles are done among them, it is 
not a sign of holiness, and is, on the contrary, a symptom 
of heresy. 

The way in which the Church has existed is that truth 
has been without dispute, or, if it has been contested, there 
has been the Pope, or, failing him, there has been the 
Church. 

850 

The five propositions condemned, but no miracle; for the 
truth was not attacked. But the Sorbonne . . . but the 
bull . . . 

It is impossible that those who love God with all their 
heart should fail to recognise the Church; so evident is she. 
— It is impossible that those who do not love God should 
be convinced of the Church. 

Miracles have such influence that it was necessary that 
God should warn men not to believe in them in opposition 
to Him, all clear as it is that there is a God. Without 
this they would have been able to disturb men. 

And thus so far from these passages, Deut. xiii., making 
against the authority of the miracles, nothing more indicates 
their influence. And the same in respect of Antichrist. " To 
seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." 

851 

The history of the man born blind. 

What says Saint Paul? Does he continually speak of 
ihc evidence of the prophecies? No, but of his own miracle. 
What says Jesus Christ? Does He speak of the evidence 
of the prophecies? No; His death had not fulfilled them. 
But He says, Si non fecissem.^ Believe the works. 

Two supernatural foundations of our wholly supernatural 
religion; one visible, the other invisible; miracles with 
grace, miracles without grace. 

The synagogue, which has been treated with love as a 
type of the Church, and with hatred, because it was only 
the type, has been restored, being on the point of falling 
when it was well with God, and thus a type. 
a John XV. 94, 



THE MIRACLES 303 

Miracles prove the power which God has over hearts, 
by that which He exercises over bodies. 

The Church has never approved a miracle among 
heretics. 

Miracles a support of religion: they have been the test 
of Jews; they have been the test of Christians, saints, inno- 
cents, and true believers. 

A miracle among schismatics is not so much to be feared; 
for schism, which is more obvious than a miracle, visibly 
indicates their error. But when there is no schism, and 
error is in question, miracle decides. 

Si non fecissem qucs alius non fecit^ The wretches who 
have obliged us to speak of miracles. 

Abraham and Gideon confirm faith by miracles. 

Judith. God speaks at last in their greatest oppression. 

If the cooling of love leaves the Church almost without 
believers, miracles will rouse them. This is one of the last 
effects of grace. 

If one miracle were wrought among the Jesuits ! 

When a miracle disappoints the expectation of those in 
whose presence it happens, and there is a disproportion 
between the state of their faith and the instrument of the 
miracle, it ought then to induce them to change. But with 
you it is otherwise. There would be as much reason in 
saying that, if the Eucharist raised a dead man, it would 
be necessary for one to turn a Calvinist rather than remain 
a Catholic. But when it crowns the expectation, and those 
who hoped that God would bless the remedies, see them- 
selves healed without remedies . . . 

The ungodly. — No sign has ever happened on the part of 
the devil without a stronger sign on the part of God, or even 
without it having been foretold that such would happen. 



852 

Unjust persecutors of those whom God visibly protects. 
If they reproach you with your excesses, *' they speak as the 
heretics." If they say that the grace of Jesus Christ dis- 
tftiguishes us, "they are heretics." If they do miracles, 
" it is the mark of their heresy." 



304 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

Ezekiel. — They say: These are the people of God who 
speak thus. 

It is said, "Believe in the Church"; but it is not said, " Be- 
lieve in miracles " ; because the last is natural, and not the 
first. The one had need of a precept, not the other. Hezekiah. 

The synagogue vi^as only a type, and thus it did not perish ; 
and it was only a type, and so it is decayed. It was a type 
which contained the truth, and thus it has lasted until it no 
longer contained the truth. 

My reverend father, all this happened in types. Other 
religions perish; this one perishes not. 

Miracles are more important than you think. They have 
served for the foundation, and will serve for the continua- 
tion of the Church till Antichrist, till the end. 

The two witnesses. 

In the Old Testament and the New, miracles are per- 
formed in connection with types. Salvation, or an useless 
thing, if not to show that we must submit to the Scriptures: 
type of the sacrament. 

853 

[We must judge soberly of divine ordinances, my father. 
Saint Paul in the isle of Malta.] 

854 
The hardness of the Jesuits then surpasses that of the 
Jews, since those refused to believe Jesus Christ innocent 
only because they doubted if His miracles were of God. 
Whereas the Jesuits, though unable to doubt that the mir- 
acles of Port Royal are of God, do not cease to doubt still 
the innocence of that house. 

855 

I suppose that men believe miracles. You corrupt religion 
either in favour of your friends, or against your enemies. 
You arrange it at your will. 

856 
On the miracle. — As God has made no family more happy, 
let it also be the case that He find none more thankful. 



SECTION XIV 
Appendix: Polemical Fragments 

8S7 

^^LEARNESS, obscurity. — There would be too great 
fy darkness, if truth had not visible signs. This is a 
wonderful one, that it has always been preserved in 
one Church and one visible assembly [of men]. There would 
be too great clearness, if there were only one opinion in this 
Church. But in order to recognise what is true, one has 
only to look at what has always existed ; for it is certain that 
truth has always existed, and that nothing false has always 
existed. 

858 

The history of the Church ought properly to be called the 
history of truth. 

859 

There is a pleasure in being in a ship beaten about by a 
storm, when we are sure that it will not founder. The 
persecutions which harass the Church are of this nature. 

860 

In addition to so many other signs of piety, they are also 
persecuted, which is the best sign of piety. 

861 

The Church is an excellent state, when it is sustained by 
God only. 

862 

The ^liurch has always been attacked by opposite errors, 
but perhaps i.ever at the same time, as now. And if she 

305 



306 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

suffer more because of the multiplicity of errors, she derives 
this advantage from it, that they destroy each other. 

She complains of both, but far more of the Calvinists, 
because of the schism. 

It is certain that many of the two opposite sects are de- 
ceived. They must be disillusioned. 

Faith embraces many truths v^rhich seem to contradict 
each other. There is a time to laugh, and a time to weep, 
&c. Responde, Ne respondeas, &c* 

The source of this is the union of the two natures in 
Jesus Christ; and also the two worlds (the creation of a new 
heaven and a new earth; a new life and a new death; all 
things double, and the same names remaining) ; and finally 
the two natures that are in the righteous, (for they are the 
two worlds, and a member and image of Jesus Christ. And 
thus all the names suit them: righteous, yet sinners; dead, 
yet living; living, yet dead; elect, yet outcast, &c.). 

There are then a great number of truths, both of faith 
and of morality, which seem contradictory, and which all 
hold good together in a wonderful system. The source 
of all heresies is the exclusion of some of these truths; 
and the source of all the objections which the heretics make 
against us is the ignorance of some of our truths. And it 
generally happens that, unable to conceive the connection 
of two opposite truths, and believing that the admission of 
one involves the exclusion of the other, they adhere to the 
one, exclude the other, and think of us as opposed to them. 
Now exclusion is the cause of their heresy; and ignorance 
that we hold the other truth causes their objections. 

1st example: Jesus Christ is God and man. The Arians, 
unable to reconcile these things, which they believe incom- 
patible, say that He is man ; in this they are Catholics. But 
they deny that He is God; in this they are heretics. They 
allege that we deny His humanity; in this they are ignorant. 

2nd example: On the subject of the Holy Sacrament. 
We believe that, the substance of the bread being changed, 
and being consubstantial with that of the body of our Lord, 
Jesus Christ is therein really present. That is one truth. 
Another is that this Sacrament is also a type of the cross 
^Proverbe xxvi. 4, $• 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS 307 

and of glory, and a commemoration of the two. That is 
the Catholic faith, which comprehends these two truths 
which seem opposed. 

The heresy of to-day, not conceiving that this Sacrament 
contains at the same time both the presence of Jesus Christ 
and a type of Him, and that it is a sacrifice and a com- 
memoration of a sacrifice, believes that neither of these truths 
can be admitted without excluding the other for this reason. 

They fasten to this point alone, that this Sacrament is 
typical; and in this they are not heretics. They think 
that we exclude this truth ; hence it comes that they raise so 
many objections to us out of the passages of the Fathers 
which assert it. Finally, they deny the presence ; and in this 
they are heretics. 

3rd example: Indulgences. 

The shortest way, therefore, to prevent heresies is to in- 
struct in all truths; and the surest way to refute them is to 
declare them all. For what will the heretics say? 

In order to know whether an opinion is a Father's . . . 

863 

All err the more dangerously, as they each follow a truth. 
Their fault is not in following a falsehood, but in not fol- 
lowing another truth. 

864 

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so estab- 
lished, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it. 

865 

If there is ever a time in which we must make profession 
of two opposite truths, it is when we are reproached for 
omitting one. Therefore the Jesuits and Jansenists are 
wrong in concealing them, but the Jansenists more so, for 
the Jesuits have better made profession of the two. 

866 

Two kinds of people make things equal to one another, 
as feasts to working days, Christians to griests, all things 



308 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

among them, &:c. And hence the one party conclude that 
what is then bad for priests is also so for Christians, and 
the other that what is not bad for Christians is lawful for 
priests. 

867 

If the ancient Church was in error, the Church is fallen. 
If she should be in error to-day, it is not the same thing; 
for she has always the superior maxim of tradition from 
the hand of the ancient Church; and so this submission and 
this conformity to the ancient Church prevail and correct 
all. But the ancient Church did not assume the future 
Church, and did not consider her, as we assume and consider 
the ancient. 

868 

That which hinders us in comparing what formerly oc- 
curred in the Church with what we see there now, is that 
we generally look upon Saint Athanasius, Saint Theresa, 
and the rest, as crowned with glory, and acting towards 
us as gods. Now that time has cleared up things, it does 
so appear. But at the time when he was persecuted, this 
great saint was a man called Athanasius ; and Saint Theresa 
was a nun. " Elias was a man subject to like passions as 
we are," says Saint James, to disabuse Christians of that 
false idea which makes us reject the example of the saints, 
as disproportioned to our state. " They were saints," say 
we, "they are not like us." What then actually happened? 
Saint Athanasius was a man called Athanasius, accused of 
many crimes, condemned by such and such a council for 
such and such a crime. All the bishops assented to it, and 
finally the Pope. What said they to those who opposed this? 
That they disturbed the peace, that they created schism, &c. 

Zeal, light. Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowl- 
edge; knowledge without zeal; neither knowledge nor zeal; 
both zeal and knowledge. The first three condemned him. 
The last acquitted him, were excommunicated by the Church, 
and yet saved the Church. 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS 309 

869 

If Saint Augustine came at the present time, and was as 
little authorised as his defenders, he would accomplish noth- 
ing. God directs his Church well, by having sent him 
before with authority. 

870 

God has not wanted to absolve without the Church. As 
she has part in the offence. He desires her to have part in 
the pardon. He associates her with this power, as kings their 
parliaments. But if she absolves or binds without God, she 
is no longer the Church. For, as in the case of parliament, 
even if the king have pardoned a man, it must be ratified; 
but if parliament ratifies without the king, or refuses to 
ratify on the order of the king, it is no longer the parlia- 
ment of the king, but a rebellious assembly. 

871 

The Church, the Pope. Unity, plurality. — Considering the 
Church as a unity, the Pope, who is its head, is as the whole. 
Considering it as a plurality, the Pope is only a part of it. 
The Fathers have considered the Church now in the one way, 
now in the other. And thus they have spoken differently 
of the Pope. (Saint Cyprian: Saccrdos Dei.) But in estab- 
lishing one of these truths, they have not excluded the other. 
Plurality which is not reduced to unity is confusion; unity 
which does not depend on plurality is tyranny. There is 
scarcely any other country than France in which it is per- 
missible to say that the Council is above the Pope. 

872 

The Pope is head. Who else is known of all? Who 
else is recognised by all, having power to insinuate himself 
into all the body, because he holds the principal shoot, which 
insinuates itself everywhere? How easy it was to make this 
degenerate into tyranny! That is why Christ has laid down 
for them this precept: Vos aiiteni non sic.* 
•Luke xxli. 26. 



310 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



873 

The Pope hates and fears the learned, who do not submit 

to him at will, 

874 

We must not judge of what the Pope is by some words 
of the Fathers — as the Greeks said in a council, important 
rules — but by the acts of the Church and the Fathers, and 
by the canons. 

Duo aut ires in unum* Unity and plurality. It is an error 
to exclude one of the two, as the papists do who exclude 
plurality, or the Huguenots who exclude unity. 

87s 

Would the Pope be dishonoured by having his knowledge 
from God and tradition; and is it not dishonouring him to 
separate him from this holy union? 

876 

God does not perform miracles in the ordinary conduct 
of His Church. It would be a strange miracle if infallibility 
existed in one man. But it appears so natural for it to 
reside in a multitude, since the conduct of God is hidden un- 
der nature, as in all His other works. 

877 

Kings dispose of their own power; but the Popes cannot 
dispose of theirs. 

878 

Summiim jus, siimma injuria* 

The majority is the best way, because it is visible, and has 
strength to make itself obeyed. Yet it is the opinion of the 
least able. 

H men could have done it, they would have placed might 
in the hands of justice. But as might does not allow itself 

•John X. 30; I John v. 8. •••The greatest law, the greatest injury.** 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS 311 

to be managed as men want, because it is a palpable quality, 
whereas justice is a spiritual quality of which men dispose 
as they please, they have placed justice in the hands of 
might. And thus that is called just which men are forced 
to obey. 

Hence comes the right of the sword, for the sword giTCS 
a true right. Otherwise we should see violence on one side 
and justice on the other. End of the twelfth Provincial. 
Hence comes the injustice of the Fronde, which raises its 
alleged justice against power. It is not the same in the 
Church, for there is a true justice and no violence. 



879 

Injustice. — ^Jurisdiction is not given for the sake of the 
judge, but for that of the litigant. It is dangerous to tell 
this to the people. But the people have too much faith in 
you; it will not harm them, and may serve you. It should 
therefore be made known. Pasce oveas meas, non tuas* 
You owe me pasturage. 

880 

Men like certainty. They like the Pope to be infallible 
in faith, and grave doctors to be infallible in moral? so as 
to have certainty. 

881 

The Church teaches, and God inspires, both infallibly. 
The work of the Church is of use only as a preparation for 
grace or condemnation. What it does is enough for con- 
demnation, not for inspiration. 

882 

Every time the Jesuits may impose upon the Pope, they 
will make all Christendom perjured. 

The Pope is very easily imposed upon, because of his 
occupations, and the confidence which he has in the Jesuits; 
■Jofaa xxL vh 



312 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

and the Jesuits are very capable of imposing upon him by 
means of calumny. 

883 

The wretches who have obliged me to speak of the basis 
of religion. 

884 

Sinners purified without penitence; the righteous justified 
without love; all Christians without the grace of Jesus 
Christ; God without power over the will of men; a pre- 
destination without mystery ; a redemption without certitude ! 

885 

Any one is made a priest, who wants to be so, as under 
Jeroboam. 

It is a horrible thing that they propound to us the disci- 
pline of the Church of to-day as so good, that it is made a 
crime to desire to change it. Formerly it was infalHbly 
good, and it was thought that it could be changed without 
sin ; and now, such as it is, we cannot wish it changed ! It 
has indeed been permitted to change the custom of not 
making priests without such great circumspection, that there 
were hardly any who were worthy; and it is not allowed to 
complain of the custom which makes so many who are 
unworthy ! 

886 

Heretics. — Ezekiel. All the heathen, and also the Prophet, 
spoke evil of Israel. But the Israelites were so far from 
having the right to say to him, " You speak like the heathen,'* 
that he is most forcible upon this, that the heathens say 
the same as he. 

887 

The Jansenists are like the heretics in the reformation 
of morality; but you are like them in evil. 



You are ignorant of the prophecies, if you do not know 
that all this must happen; princes, prophets, Poge, and even 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS 313 

the prie&ts. And yet the Church is to abide. By the grace 
of God we have not come to that. Woe to these priests ! 
But we hope that God will bestow His mercy upon us that 
we shall not be of them. 

Saint Peter, ii. : false prophets in the past, the image of 
future ones. 

889 

... So that if it is true, on the one hand, that some 
lax monks, and some corrupt casuists, who are not members 
of the hierarchy, are steeped in these corruptions, it is, on 
the other hand, certain that the true pastors of the Church, 
who are the true guardians of the Divine Word, have pre- 
served it unchangeably against the efforts of those who have 
attempted to destroy it. 

And thus true believers have no pretext to follow that 
laxity, which is only offered to them by the strange hands 
of these casuists, instead of the sound doctrine which is 
presented to them by the fatherly hands of their own 
pastors. And the ungodly and heretics have no ground 
for publishing these abuses as evidence of imperfection 
in the providence of God over His Church ; since, the 
Church consisting properly in the body of the hierarchy, 
we are so far from being able to conclude from the 
present state of matters that God has abandoned her to 
corruption, that it has never been more apparent than at 
the present time that God visibly protects her from 
corruption. 

For if some of these men, who, by an extraordinary voca- 
tion, have made profession of withdrawing from the world 
and adopting the monks' dress, in order to live in a more per- 
fect state than ordinary Christians, have fallen into excesses 
which horrify ordinary Christians, and have become to us 
what the false prophets were among the Jews; this is a 
private and personal misfortune, which must indeed be de- 
plored, but from which nothing can be inferred against 
the care which God takes of His Church; since all these 
things are so clearly foretold, and it has been so long since 
announced that these temptations would arise from these 
kind of people; so that when we are well instructed, we sec 



314 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

in this rather evidence of the care of God than of His 
forgetfulness in regard to us. 

890 
Tertullian: Nunquam Ecclesia reformahitur* 

891 

Heretics, who take advantage of the doctrine of the 
Jesuits, must be made to know that it is not that of the 
Church ... the doctrine of the Church; and that our divi- 
sions do not separate us from the altar. 

892 

If in differing we condemned, you would be right. Uni- 
formity without diversity is useless to others; diversity 
without uniformity is ruinous for us. The one is harmful 
outwardly; the other inwardly. 

893 
By showing the truth, we cause it to be believed; but by 
showing the injustice of ministers, we do not correct it. 
Our mind is assured by a proof of falsehood; our purse is 
not made secure by proof of injustice. 

894 

Those who love the Church lament to see the corruption 
of morals; but laws at least exist. But these corrupt the 
laws. The model is damaged. 

895 
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when 
they do it from religious conviction. 

896 

It is in vain that the Church has established these words, 
anathemas, heresies, &c. They are used against her. 
•"The Church will never be reformed." 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS 31S 

897 

The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, for the 
master tells him only the act and not the intention. And 
this is why he often obeys slavishly, and defeats the inten- 
tion. But Jesus Christ has told us the object. And you 
defeat that object. 

898 

They cannot have perpetuity, and they seek universality; 
and therefore they make the whole Church corrupt, that 
they may be saints. 

899 

Against those who misuse passages of Scripture, and who 
pride themselves in finding one which seems to favour their 
error. — The chapter for Vespers, Passion Sunday, the prayer 
for the king. 

Explanation of these words : " He that is not with me is 
against me." And of these others: "He that is not against 
you is for you." A person who says : " I am neither for 
nor against ; " we ought to reply to him . . . 

900 

He who will give the meaning of Scripture, and does not 
take it from Scripture, is an enemy of Scripture. (Aug.: 
De Doct. Christ.) 

901 

Humilibus daf gratiam; an ideo non dedit humilitatemf* 
Sui eum non receperunt; quotquot autem non receperunt 
an non erant suif* 

902 

"It must indeed be," says Feuillant, "that this is not so 
certain; for controversy indicates uncertainty, (Saint 
Athanasius, Saint Chrysostom, morals, unbelievers)." 

The Jesuits have not made the truth uncertain, but they 
have made their own ungodliness certain. 

Contradiction has always been permitted, in order to 
» James iv. 6. *John i. 11, is. 



318 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

blind the wicked; for all that offends truth or love is evil. 
This is the true principle. 

903 

All religions and sects in the world have had natural 
reason for a guide. Christians alone have been constrained 
to take their rules from without themselves, and to acquaint 
themselves with those which Jesus Christ bequeathed to men 
of old to be handed down to true believers. This constraint 
wearies these good Fathers. They desire, like other people, 
to have liberty to follow their own imaginations. It is in 
vain that we cry to them, as the prophets said to the Jews 
of old: "Enter into the Church; acquaint yourselves with 
the precepts which the men of old left to her, and follow 
those paths." They have answered like the Jews : " We 
will not walk in them ; but we will follow the thoughts of our 
hearts ; " and they have said, " We will be as the other 
nations." 

904 

They make a rule of exception. 

Have the men of old given absolution before penance? 
Do this as exceptional. But of the exception you make a 
rule without exception, so that you do not even want the 
rule to be exceptional. 

905 

On confessions and absolutions without signs of regret. 

God regards only the inward; the Church judges only 
by the outward. God absolves as soon as He sees penitence 
in the heart; the Church when she sees it in works. God 
will make a Church pure within, which confounds, by its 
inward and entirely spiritual holiness, the inward impiety of 
proud sages and Pharisees; and the Church will make an 
assembly of men whose external manners are so pure as to 
confound the manners of the heathen. If there are hypo- 
crites among them, but so well disguised that she does not 
discover their venom, she tolerates them ; for, though they 
are not accepted of God, whom they cannot deceive, they 
are of men, whom they do deceive. And thus she is not dis- 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS 317 

honoured by their- conduct, which appears holy. But you 
want the Church to judge neither of the inward, because 
that belongs to God alone, nor of the outward, because God 
dwells only upon the inward; and thus, taking away from 
her all choice of men, you retain in the Church the most dis- 
solute, and those who dishonour her so greatly, that the 
synagogues of the Jews and sects of philosophers would 
have banished them as unworthy, and have abhorred them 
as impious. 

906 

The easiest conditions to live in according to the world 
are the most difficult to live in according to God, and vice 
versa. Nothing is so difficult according to the world as the 
religious life; nothing is easier than to live it according to 
God. Nothing is easier, according to the world, than to live 
in high office and great wealth; nothing is more difficult 
than to live in th©m according to God, and without acquir- 
ing an interest in them and a liking for them. 



907 

The casuists submit the decision to the corrupt reason, 
and the choice of decisions to the corrupt will, in order that 
all that is corrupt in the nature of man may contribute to his 
conduct. 

908 

But is it probable that probability gives assurance? 

Difference between rest and security of conscience. Noth- 
ing gives certainty but truth; nothing gives rest but the 
sincere search for truth. 

909 

The whole society itself of their casuists cannot give 
assurance to a conscience in error, and that is why it is im- 
portant to choose good guides. 

Thus they will be doubly culpable, both in having followed 
ways which they should not have followed, and in having 
listened to teachers to whom they should not have listened. 



318 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

910 

Can it be anything but compliance with the world which 
makes you find things probable? Will you make us believe 
that it is truth, and that if duelling were not the fashion, 
you would find it probable that they might fight, considering 
the matter in itself? 

911 

Must we kill to prevent there being any wicked? This 
is to make both parties wicked instead of one. Vince in bono 
malum^ (Saint Augustine.) 

912 

Vtiiversal. — Ethics and language are special, but universal 
sciences. 

913 
Probability. — Each one can employ it; no one can take it 
away. 

914 

They allow lust to act, and check scruples; whereas they 
should do the contrary. 

Montalte. — Lax opinions please men so much, that it is 
strange that theirs displease. It is because they have ex- 
ceeded all bounds. Again, there are many people who see 
the truth, and who cannot attain to it; but there are few 
who do not know that the purity of religion is opposed to 
our corruptions. It is absurd to say that an eternal recom- 
pense is offered to the morality of Escobar. 

916 

Probability. — They have some true principles; but they 
misuse them. Now, the abuse of truth ought to be as much 
punished as the introduction of falsehood. 

As if there were two hells, one for sins against love, the 
Other for those against justice ! 

* Romans xii. 21. 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS J]9 



Probability. — The earnestness of the saints in seeking the 
truth was useless, if the probable is trustworthy. The fear 
of the saints who have always followed the surest way, 
(Saint Theresa having always followed her confessor). 

918 

Take away probability, and you can no longer please the 
world; give probability, and you can no longer displease it. 

919 

These are the effects of the sins of the peoples and of 
the Jesuits. The great have wished to be flattered. The 
Jesuits have wished to be loved by the great. They have all 
been worthy to be abandoned to the spirit of lying, the one 
party to deceive, the others to be deceived. They have been 
avaricious, ambitious, voluptuous. Coacervabunt tibi magis- 
tr<s^* Worthy disciples of such masters, they have sought 
flatterers, and have found them. 

920 

If they do not renounce their doctrine of probability, 
their good maxims are as little holy as the bad, for they are 
founded on human authority; and thus, if they are more 
just, they will be more reasonable, but not more holy. They 
take after the wild stem on which they are grafted. 

If what I say does not serve to enlighten you, it will be 
of use to the people. 

If these are silent, the stones will speak. 

Silence is the greatest persecution; the saints were never 
silent. It is true that a call is necessary; but it is not from 
the decrees of the Council that we must learn whether we 
are called, it is from the necessity of speaking. Now, after 
Rome has spoken, and we think that she has condemned the 
truth, and that they have written it, and after the books 
which have said the contrary are censured ; we must cry out 
»a Tim. vt. 3. 



320 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 

so much the louder, the more unjustly we are censured, and 
the more violently they would stifle speech, until there come 
a Pope who hears both parties, and who consults antiquity 
to do justice. So the good Popes will find the Church still 
in outcry. 

The Inquisition and the Society are the two scourges of 
the truth. 

Why do you not accuse them of Arianism? For, though 
they have said that Jesus Christ is God, perhaps they mean 
by it not the natural interpretation, but as it is said, Dii 
estis."- 

If my Letters are condemned at Rome, that which I con- 
demn in them is condemned in heaven. Ad tuiim, Dominc 
Jesu, tribunal appello,^ 

You yourselves are corruptible. 

I feared that I had written ill, seeing myself condemned; 
but the example of so many pious writings makes me believe 
the contrary. It is no longer allowable to write well, so cor- 
rupt or ignorant is the Inquisition ! 

" It is better to obey God than men." 

I fear nothing; I hope for nothing. It is not so with the 
bishops. Port Royal fears, and it is bad policy to disperse 
them; for they will fear no longer and will cause greater 
fear. I do not even fear your like censures, if they are 
not founded on those of tradition. Do you censure all? 
What ! even my respect ? No. Say then what, or you will 
do nothing, if you do not point out the evil, and why it is 
evil. And this is what they will have great difficulty in 
doing. 

Probability. — They have given a ridiculous explanation 
of certitude ; for, after having established that all their ways 
are sure, they have no longer called that sure which leads 
to heaven without danger of not arriving there by it, but 
that which leads there without danger of going out of thi't 
road. 

921 

. . . The saints indulge in subtleties in order to think 
themselves criminals, and impeach their better actions. And 

^ " Ye are Gods." " " To thy judgment-seat. Lord Jesus, I appeal.** 



POLEMICAL FRAGMENTS «1 

these indulge in subtleties in order to excuse the most 
wicked. 

The heathen sages erected a structure equally fine outside, 
but upon a bad foundation; and the devil deceives men by 
this apparent resemblance based upon the most different 
foundation. 

Man never had so good a cause as I; and others have 
never furnished so good a capture as you . . . 

The more they point out weakness in my person, the 
more they authorise my cause. 

You say that I am a heretic. Is that lawful ? And if you 
do not fear that men do justice, do you not fear that God 
does justice? 

You will feel the force of the truth, and you will yield 
to it . . . 

There is something supernatural in such a blindness, 
Digna necessitas^* Mentiris impudentissime^* . . . 

Doctrina sua noscitur vir^^ . . . 

False piety, a double sin. 

I am alone against thirty thousand. No. Protect, you, 
the court; protect, you, deception; let me protect the truth. 
It is all my strength. If I lose it, I am undone. I shall not 
lack accusations, and persecutions. But I possess the truth, 
and we shall see who will take it away. 

I do not need to defend religion, but you do not need to 
defend error and injustice. Let God, out of His compassion, 
having no regard to the evil which is in me, and having 
regard to the good which is in you, grant us all grace that 
truth may not be overcome in my hands, and that false- 
hood . . . 

922 

Probable. — Let us see if we seek God sincerely, by com- 
parison of the things which we love. It is probable that this 
food will not poison me. It is probable that I shall not lose 
my action by not prosecuting it . . . 

13 •« Their desert by necessity was drawing nigh." Wisdom, xix. 4. 

" " You lie most impudently." ^° " A man is known by his doctrine.** 



HC XLVni (k) 



322 PASCAL'S THOUGHTS 



923 

It is not absolution only which remits sins by the sacra- 
ment of penance, but contrition, which is not real if it does 
not seek the sacrament. 

924 

People who do not keep their word, without faith, without 

honour, without truth, deceitful in heart, deceitful in speech ; 
for which that amphibious animal in fable was once re- 
proached, which held itself in a doubtful position between 
the fish and the birds , . , 

It is important to kings and princes to be considered 
pious ; and therefore they must confess themselves to you. 



LETTERS OF PASCAL 



TRANSLATED BY 

M. L. BOOTH 



MINOR WORKS OF PASCAL 



TRANSLATED BY 

O. W. WIGHT 



LETTERS OF PASCAL 

I 

From Pascal to His Sister Jacqueline 

January 2(i, 1648. 
My Dear Sister, 

WE have received your letters. I intended to reply 
to the first that you wrote me more than four 
months since, but my indisposition and some other 
things prevented me. Since then I have not been in a con- 
dition to write, either on account of my illness, for want of 
leisure, or for some other reason. I have few hours of 
leisure and health together; I shall however endeavor to 
finish this letter without forcing myself; I know not whether 
it will be long or short. My principal design is to make 
you understand the truth of the visit which you know of, 
in which I hoped to have wherewith to satisfy you and to 
reply to your last letters. I can commence with nothing 
else than the expression of the pleasure which they have 
given me; I have received satisfactions so sensible from 
them that I cannot tell them to you by word of mouth. I 
entreat you to believe that, though I may not have written 
to you, there has not been an hour in which you have not 
been present to me, in which I have not made wishes for 
the continuation of the great designs with which Heaven 
has inspired you.^ I have felt new transports of joy at all 
the letters which bore testimony of it, and I have been de- 
lighted to see the continuance of it without your receiving 
any news on our part. This has made me judge that there 
was a more than human support, since there was no need 
of human means to sustain it. I should be glad neverthe- 

1 An allusion to the design of Jacqueline to become a nun. 

325 



326 PASCAL 

less to contribute something to it; but I have none of the 
capacities necessary for that purpose. My weakness is so 
great that, if I should undertake it, I should do an act 
of temerity rather than of charity, and I should have a 
right to fear for us both the calamity that menaces the 
blind led by the blind. I have felt my incapacity incom- 
parably more since the visits which are in question; and far 
from having brought back enough of light for others, I 
have brought nothing but confusion and trouble for myself, 
which God alone can calm, and in which I shall work with 
care, but without impatience and disquietude, knowing well 
that both would remove me from it. I repeat that God 
alone can calm it, and that I shall work for this, since I 
find nothing but occasions for making it spring up and 
increase in those from whom I had expected its dissipa- 
tion; so that, seeing myself reduced to myself alone, it re- 
mains to me only to pray to God that he may bless it with 
success. For this I shall have need of the aid of scholars 
and disinterested persons: the first will not afford it; I 
seek no longer but for the latter; and hence I desire in- 
finitely to see you, for letters are long, inconvenient, and 
almost useless on such occasions. Nevertheless I will write 
you something of it. 

The first time I saw M. Rebours,'* I made myself known to 
him and was received with as much civility as I could wish. 
This was due to my father, since I received it on his ac- 
count. After the first compliments, I asked permission to see 
him again from time to time; he granted it to me: thus 
I was at liberty to see him, so that I do not account this 
first sight as a visit, since it was only the permission for 
such. I was there for some time, and among other con- 
versation, I told him with my usual frankness and naivete, 
that we had seen their books and those of their adversaries, 
which was sufficient to make him understand that we were 
of their sentiments. He expressed some pleasure at this. 
I then told him that I thought that many things could be 
demonstrated upon the mere principles of common-sense 
that their adversaries said were contrary to it, and that well- 
directed reasoning led to a belief in them, although it was 

' One of the confessors of Port-Royal. 



LETTERS 327 

necessary to believe in them without the aid of reasoning. 
These were my own words, in which I think there was not 
wherewith to wound the most severe modesty. But as you 
know that all actions may have two sources, and that such 
language might proceed from a principle of vanity and of 
confidence in reasoning, this suspicion, which was increased 
by the knowledge that he had of my studies in geometry, 
sufficed to make him find this language strange, and he ex- 
pressed it to me by a repartee so full of humility and gen- 
tleness that it would doubtless have confounded the pride 
that he wished to refute. Still I endeavored to make him 
understand my motive; but my justification increased his 
suspicions and he took mv excuses for obstinacy. I ac- 
knowledge that his discourse was so beautiful that if I had 
been in the state in which he believed me, he would have 
drawn me from it; but as I did not think myself in this 
disease, I opposed the remedy which he presented me; but 
he insisted on it the more, the more I seemed to evade 
it, because he took my refusal for obstinacy; and the more 
he strove to continue, the more my thanks testified to him 
that I did not consider it necessary; so that the whole of 
this interview passed in this equivocation and in an em- 
barrassment which continued in all the rest, and which could 
not be unravelled. I shall not relate the others word for 
word, since it would not be necessary to my purpose; I 
shall only tell you in substance the purport of what was 
said on them, or rather, the principle of their restraint. 

But I entreat you before all things to draw no conclusions 
from what I write, for things may escape me without suf- 
ficient precision; and this may cause some suspicion to 
spring up in you as disadvantageous as unjust. For in- 
deed, after having reflected on it carefully, I find in it only 
an obscurity which it would be difficult and dangerous to 
decide, and for myself, I suspend my judgment entirely, as 
much from my weakness as from my want of knowledge, 



328 PASCAL 



Letter from Pascal and His Sister Jacqueline to their 
Sister, Madame Perier 

April I, 1648. 

We do not know whether this letter will be interminable, 
like the rest, but we know that we would gladly write to you 
without end. We have here the letter of M. de Saint- 
Cyran, de la Vocation, lately published without approba- 
tion or privilege, which has shocked many. We are reading 
it; we will send it afterwards to you. We should be glad 
to know your opinion of it, and that of my father. It 
takes high ground. 

We have several times begun to write to you, but I 
have been deterred from it by the example and the speeches, 
or, if you like, the rebuffs of which you know; but, since 
we have been enlightened upon the matter as much as pos- 
sible, I believe that it is necessary to use some circum- 
spection in it, and if there are occasions in which we ought 
not to speak of these things, we may now dispense with 
them; for we do not doubt each other, and as we are, as 
it were, mutually assured that we have, in all these dis- 
courses, nothing but the glory of God for our object, and 
scarcely any communication outside of ourselves, I do 
not see that we should have any scruple, so long as he 
shall give us these sentiments. If we add to these con- 
siderations that of the union which nature has made be- 
tween us, and to this last that which grace has made, I 
think that, far from finding a prohibition, we shall find an 
obligation to it ; for I find that our happiness has been so 
great in being united in the latter way that we ought to 
unite to acknowledge and to rejoice at it. For it must be 
confessed that it is properly since this time (which M. de 
Saint-Cyran wishes should be called the commencement of 
life), that we should consider ourselves as truly related, 
and that it has pleased God to join us in his new world 
by the spirit, as he had done in the terrestrial world by 
the flesh. 

We beg you that there may not be a day in which you 



LETTERS 329 

do not revoJve this in memory, and often acknowledge 
the way which God has used in this conjunction, in which 
he has not only made us brothers of each other, but 
children of the same father; for you know that my father 
has foreseen us all, and, as it were, conceived us in this 
design. It is in this that we should marvel, that God has 
given us both the type and the reality of this union; for, as 
we have often said among ourselves, corporeal things are 
nothing but an image of spiritual, and God has repre- 
sented invisible things in the visible. This thought is 
so general and so useful that we ought not to let much 
time pass without thinking of it with attention. We have 
discoursed particularly enough of the relation of these two 
sorts of things, for which reason we shall not speak of 
it here; for it is too long to write, and too beautiful not 
to have remained in your memory, and, what is more, is 
absolutely necessary according to my opinion. For, as our 
sins hold us wrapped in things corporeal and terrestrial, 
and as these are not only the penalty of our sins, but also 
the occasion of committing new ones, and the cause of 
the first, it is necessary that we should make use of the 
same position into which we have fallen to raise us from 
our overthrow. For this reason, we should use carefully 
the advantage which the goodness of God bestows upon 
us in having always before our eyes an image of the good 
that we have lost, and in surrounding us in the very cap- 
tivity to which his justice has reduced us, with so many 
objects that serve to us as an ever-present lesson. 

So that we should consider ourselves as criminals in a 
prison filled with images of their liberator, and instruc- 
tions necessary to escape from their bondage; but it must 
be acknowledged that we cannot perceive these sacred char- 
acters without a supernatural light; for as all things speak 
of God to those who know him, and as they reveal him 
to all those who love him, these same things conceal him 
from all those who know him not. Thus it is seen, that in 
the darkness of the world men follow them in a brutal 
blindness, and cling to them, and make of them the final 
end of their desires, whicl they cannot do without sacri- 
lege, for there is nothing but God that should be the final 



S30 PASCAL 

end, as he alone is the principle. For whatever resemblance 
created nature may have to its Creator, and although the 
most trifling things, and the smallest and the vilest portions 
of the world represent at least by their unity the perfect 
unity that is found only in God, we cannot legitimately 
bear to them sovereign respect, since there is nothing so 
abominable in the eyes of God and man as idolatry, be- 
cause it renders to the creature the honor that is due 
to none but the Creator. The Scripture is full of the 
vengeance that God executes on all those who have been 
guilty of it, and the first commandment of the Decalogue, 
which includes all the rest, prohibits above everything the 
adoration of his images. But as he is much more jealous 
of our affections than our respect, it is evident that there 
is no crime more injurious or more detestable to him than 
» to bestow sovereign love upon created things, although they 
represent him. 

This is why those to whom God has made known these 
great truths ought to use these images to enjoy that which 
they represent, and not remain eternally in that carnal and 
Judaical blindness which causes the type to be taken for the 
reality. And those whom God, by regeneration, has drawn 
freely from sin (which is the veritable nothingness, since 
it is opposed to God, who is the veritable being) to give 
them a place in his Church, which is his real temple, after 
having drawn them freely from nothingness to the point 
of their creation, in order to give them a place in the 
universe, have a double obligation to honor him and serve 
him; since as created beings they should remain in the 
order of created beings, and not profane the place that they 
fill, and as Christians they should aspire without ceas- 
ing to render themselves worthy to form part of the body 
of Jesus Christ. But as whilst the created things that 
compose the world acquit themselves of their obligation 
by remaining within a limited perfection, because the per- 
fection of the world is also limited, the children of God 
should set no bounds to their purity and their perfection, 
because they form part of a body wholly divine, and in- 
finitely perfect; as it is evident that Jesus Christ does not 
limit the commandment of perfection, and that he proposes 



LETTERS 331 

it to us as a model wherein it exists infinite when he says: 
*' Be ye also perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." 
Thus it is a very prejudicial and very common error among 
Christians, and even among those who make a profession 
of piety, to persuade themselves that there may be a de- 
gree of perfection in which they can be with assurance, 
and which it is not necessary to pass, since there is none 
at which it will not be wrong to stop, and from which we 
can only avoid falling by mounting still higher. 



3 

Letter from Pascal and His Sister Jacqueline to their 
Sister, Madame Perier 

Paris, November 5, afternoon, 1648. 
My dear Sister, 

Your letter has recalled to us a misunderstanding of 
which we had lost recollection, so absolutely had it passed 
from us. The somewhat too diffuse explanations that we 
have received have brought to light the general and former 
subject of our complaints, and the satisfaction that we 
have given has softened the harshness which my father 
had conceived for them. We said what you had already 
said, without knowing that you had said it, and then we 
excused verbally what you had afterwards excused in 
writing, without knowing that you had done so; and we 
knew not what you had done until after we had acted our- 
selves; for as we have hidden nothing from my father, 
he has revealed every thing, and thus cured all our sus- 
picions. You know how much such troubles disturb the 
peace of the family both within and without, and what need 
we have in these junctures of the warnings which you 
have given us a little too late. 

We have some to give you on the subject of your own. 
The first is in respect to what you say, that we have in- 
structed you as to what you should write to us. i*. I do 
not remember to have spoken to you of it, so that this was 
a novelty to me; and, besides, even though this were true. 



332 PASCAL 

I should fear that you had not retained this humanly, if 
you had not forgotten the person of whom you learned 
it to remember only God, who alone could have truly in- 
structed you in it. If you remember it as a good thing, you 
cannot think to hold it from any other, since neither you nor 
the others can learn it except from God alone. For, although 
in this kind of gratitude, we do not stop at the men whom 
we address as though they were the authors of the good 
that we receive through their means, this nevertheless forms 
a partial opposition to the views of God, and chiefly in the 
persons who are not entirely divested of the carnal im- 
pressions which make them consider as the source of good 
the objects that transmit it. 

Not that we ought not to remember those persons from 
whom we have received any instructions, when these per- 
sons have been authorized to make them, as fathers, bishops, 
and confessors, because they are the masters of whom others 
are the disciples. But as to us, it is different; for as the 
angel refused the adoration of a holy servant like himself, 
we tell you, in entreating you no longer to use these terms 
of human gratitude, to refrain from paying us such com- 
pliments, since we are disciples like yourself. 

The second is in respect to what you say of its being un- 
necessary to repeat these things to us, since we know them 
perfectly already; which causes us to fear that you do 
not distinguish clearly enough here between the things 
of which you speak and those of which the world speaks, 
since it is doubtless quite enough to have learned the 
latter once and retained them well to be no further in- 
structed in them, while it does not suffice to have com- 
prehended once those of the other kind and to have known 
them well, that is, by the internal impulse of God, to pre- 
serve the knowledge of them in the same degree, although 
we may retain the memory. Not that we may not re- 
member and as easily retain an epistle of St. Paul as a book 
of Virgil; but the knowledge that we acquire in this 
manner, as well as its continuation, is only an effect of 
memory, while to understand this secret language, unknown 
to those who are not of Heaven, it is necessary that the 
same grace, which alone can give the first knowledge of it, 



LETTERS 333 

shall continue and render it ever present by retracing it with- 
out ceasing in the hearts of the faithful to keep it con- 
stantly existing there; as God continually renews their 
beatitude in the blessed, which is an effect and a consequence 
of grace; as likewise the Church holds that the Father 
perpetually produces the Son and maintains the eternity 
of this essence by an effusion of his substance, which is 
without interruption as well as without end. 

Thus the continuation of the justice of the faithful is 
nothing else than the continuation of the infusion of grace, 
and not a single grace that subsists continually; and this 
it is that teaches us perfectly our perpetual dependence on 
the mercy of God, since if he suspends the course of it 
ever so slightly, barrenness necessarily becomes the result. 
In this necessity, it is easy to see that it is necessary to 
make new efforts continually to acquire this continual 
newness of spirit, since we can only preserve the former 
grace by the acquisition of a new grace, and since other- 
wise we shall lose what we think to retain, as those who 
wish to shut in the light shut in nothing but darkness. 
Thus we should watch unceasingly to purify the interior, 
which is constantly sullied by new spots while retaining 
the old ones, since without this assiduous renovation we 
shall be incapable of receiving that new wine that cannot 
be put into old bottles. 

For this reason you should not fear to place before our 
eyes the things which we have in our memory, and which 
it is necessary to cause to enter into the heart, since it 
is unquestionable that your discourse can better serve as 
the instrument of grace than can the impression of it that 
remains in our memory, since grace is especially accorded 
to prayer, and since this charity that you have had for 
us is among those prayers that ought never to be inter- 
rupted. Thus we never should refuse to read or to hear 
holy things, however common or well-known they may be; 
for our memory as well as the instructions which it con- 
tains, is only an inanimate and Judaical body without the 
spirit that should vivify them. And it often happens that 
God avails himself of these exterior means to make them 
understood and to leave so much the less food for the 



334 PASCAL 

vanity of men when they thus receive grace in themselves. 
Thus, a book or a sermon, however common it may be, 
brings much more profit to him who hears or reads it with 
better disposition than does the excellence of the most 
elevated discourses which usually bring more pleasure than 
instruction; and it is sometimes seen that those who listen 
as they ought, although ignorant and almost stupid, are 
touched by the simple name of God and the words that 
menace them with hell, although these may be all that they 
comprehend and although they knew it as well before. 

The third is in respect to what you say about only writing 
things to make us understand that you share the same 
feeling. We have equally to praise and to thank you on 
this subject; we praise you for your perseverance and thank 
you for the testimony that you give us of it. We had 
already drawn this confession from M. Perier, and the 
things that we induced him to say had assured us of it: 
we can only tell you how much we are pleased by repre- 
senting to you the joy which you would receive if you 
should hear the same thing of us. 

We have nothing in particular to tell you, except touch- 
ing the design of your house.^ We know that M. Perier 
is too earnest in what he undertakes to fully think of two 
things at once, and that the entire design is of such mag- 
nitude that, in order to complete it, he must remain a long 
time without thinking of any thing else. We know, too., 
that his project is only for a part of the building; but this, 
besides being only too large alone, engages for the com- 
pletion of the rest as soon as there shall be no farther 
obstacles to it, however determined he may be to the 
contrary, especially if he employs the time in building 
that it would take to undeceive him of the secret pleasure 
that he finds in it. Thus we have counselled him to build 
much less than he intended, and only what is actually 
necessary, although according to the same design, in order 
that he may not have cause to become absorbed in it, nor 
yet deprive himself of the opportunity of doing so. We 
entreat you to think seriously of it, and to resolve to 

* A country house built by M. Perier, which is still standing, at Bien* 
assis, near the gates of Clermont. — Faugire, 



LETTERS 335 

counsel him likewise, lest it may happen that he may be 
far more prudent and bestow much more care and pains 
in the building of an earthly house than he is obliged to 
bestow on that mystic tower, of which you know St. Augus- 
tine speaks in one of his letters, which he has promised 
to finish in his conversations. Adieu. B. P. — -J. P. 

Postscript of Jacqueline. — I hope shortly to write you the 
particulars of my own affair, of which I shall send you the 
details ; meanwhile, pray to God for the result. 

If you know any pious soul, let him pray to God for me 
also." 



4 
Letter to Madame Perier and Her Husband/ on the 
Death of M. Pascal, Pere 

October 17, 1651. 

As you are both now informed of our common mis- 
fortune, and as the letter which we commenced has given 
you some consolation by the recital of the happy circum- 
stances that accompanied the subject of our affliction, I 
cannot refuse to you those which remain in my mind, and 
which I pray God to give me, and to recall to me several 
which we formerly received from his grace, and which have 
been newly given to us by our friends on this occasion. 

I know not now where my first letter ended. My sister 
sent it away without noticing that it was not finished. It 
only seems to me that it contained in substance some par- 
ticulars of the conduct of God over life and sickness, which 
I would repeat to you here, so deeply are they engraven 
in my heart, and so solid is the consolation that they bring 
me, if you could not have seen them yourselves in the 
preceding letter, and if my sister did not intend to make 
to you a more exact recital of them at her earliest con- 

•This last sentence is in the handwriting of Pascal; usually Jacqueline 

wrote under the dictation of her brother. — W. 

» Fragments of this letter have figured in a great number of the editions 
of Pascal, under the title of: Thoughts upon Death, extracted from a letter 
written by M. Pascal upon the subject of the death of his father. M. 
Cousin, upon this indication, sought for and found the letter, such as we 
publish it here. — W. 



336 PASCAL 

venience. I shall, therefore, only speak to you here of 
the conclusion which I draw from them, which is that, 
except those who are interested by the feelings of nature, 
there is not a Christian who should not rejoice at it. 

Upon this great foundation, I shall commence what I 
have to say to you by a remark that is very consoling to 
those who have sufficient liberty of spirit to conceive it 
in the midst of griei. It is that we should seek consola- 
tion in our ills, not in ourselves, not in men, not in any 
thing that is created; but in God. And the reason is, that 
all creatures are not the first cause of the accidents that 
we call evils; but that the providence of God being the only 
and veritable cause, the arbiter and the sovereign of them, 
it is indubitable that we must resort directly to the source, 
and go back to the origin to find a solid alleviation. If we 
follow this precept, and if we regard this event, not as an 
effect of chance, not as a fatal necessity of nature, not as 
the play of the elements and parts of which man is com- 
posed (for God has not abandoned his elect to caprice and 
chance), but as a result indispensable, inevitable, just, holy, 
useful to the good of the Church, and to the exaltation of 
the name and the greatness of God, of a decree of his 
providence conceived from all eternity to be executed in 
the plenitude of its time in such a year, such a day, such 
an hour, such a place, such a manner; and, in short, that 
all that has happened has been from all time foreknown 
and foreordained of God; if, I say, through a transport of 
grace, we regard this accident, not in itself and apart from 
God, but apart from itself, and in the inmost part of the 
will of God, in the justice of his decree, in the order of his 
providence, which is the true cause of it, without which it 
would not have happened, through which alone it has hap- 
pened, and in the manner in which it has happened; we 
shall adore in humble silence the impenetrable loftiness 
of his secrets, we shall venerate the sanctity of his de- 
crees, we shall bless the acts of his providence, and, unit- 
ing our will to that of God himself, we shall wish with 
him, in him, and for him, the thing that he has willed in 
us and for us from all eternity. 

Let us regard it, then, in this manner, and let us prac- 



LETTERS 337 

tice this precept, which I learned of a great man in the 
time of our deepest affliction, that there is no consolation 
except in truth alone. It is certain that Socrates and Seneca 
have nothing consolatory on such an occasion as this. They 
have been in the error that has blinded all men in the be- 
ginning : they have all taken death as natural to man ; and all 
the discourses w^hich they have founded upon this false 
principle are so futile that they only serve to demonstrate 
by their inutility how weak man is in general, since the most 
elevated productions of the greatest among men are so 
weak and puerile. It is not the same with Jesus Christ, 
it is not thus in the canonical books: the truth is there 
revealed, and consolation is also as infallibly joined with 
it as it is infallibly separated from error. 

Let us, then, consider death in the truth which the Holy 
Spirit has taught us. We have this admirable advantage, 
of knowing that death is really and actually a penalty 
of sin imposed on man in order to expiate his crime, neces- 
sary to man to purge him from sin; that it is the only 
one that can deliver the soul from the concupiscence of the 
members, without which saints come not into the world. 
We know that life, and the life of Christians, is a con- 
tinual sacrifice, that can only be completed by death; we 
know that as Jesus Christ, being in the world, regarded and 
offered himself to God as a sacrifice, and a veritable vic- 
tim; as his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, his 
ascension, his presence in the Eucharist, and his eternal 
seat at the right hand, are only a sole and single sacri- 
fice; we know that what has been accomplished in Jesus 
Christ should be accomplished also in all his members. 

Let us, then, consider life as a sacrifice; and let the ac- 
cidents of life make no impression upon the minds of 
Christians, except in proportion as they interrupt or ac- 
complish this sacrifice. Let us only call that evil which 
renders the victim of God the victim of the devil, but 
let us call that good which renders the victim of the devil 
in Adam the victim of God; and by this rule let us examine 
the nature of death. 

For this consideration it is necessary to have recourse 
to the person of Jesus Christ, for all that is in men is 



338 PASCAL 

abominable, and as God looks upon men only through the 
mediator Jesus Christ, men should also look neither upon 
others nor themselves except mediately through Jesus Christ. 
For if we do not take this course, we shall find in our- 
selves nothing but veritable misfortunes, or abominable pleas- 
ures; but if we regard all things in Jesus Christ, we shall 
find full consolation, full satisfaction, and full edification. 

Let us, then, consider death in Jesus Christ, and not with- 
out Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ it is horrible, de- 
testable, the horror of nature. In Jesus Christ it is alto- 
gether different; it is benignant, holy, the joy of the faithful. 
Every thing is sweet in Jesus Christ, even to death : and this 
is why he suffered and died to sanctify death and suffering; 
and, in common with God and man, he has been all that was 
great, and all that was abject, in order to sanctify in himself 
all things except sin, and to be the model of every condi- 
tion. 

To consider the nature of death, and of death in Jesus 
Christ, it is necessary to see what rank it holds in his con- 
tinual and uninterrupted sacrifice, and for this to remark 
that in sacrifices the most important parf is the death of 
the victim. The oblation and sanctification which precede 
are the details; but the accomplishment is the death, in 
which, by the annihilation of life, the creature renders to 
God all the homage of which it is capable, in annihilating 
itself before the face of his majesty, and in adoring his 
sovereign existence, which alone exists in reality. It is true 
that there is another part, after the death of the victim, 
without which its death would be useless, that is, God's ac- 
ceptance of the sacrifice. This is what is said in the Scrip- 
ture : Et odoratus est Dominus suavitatem. " And the Lord 
smelled a sweet sacrifice.'* This it is that really consum- 
mates the oblation; but it is rather an action of God to- 
wards the creature than of the creature towards God, and 
does not hinder the last act of the creature from being 
death. 

All these things have been accomplished in Jesus Christ. 
In entering the world, he offered himself: Ohtulit semetipsum 
per Spiritum Sanctum. Ingrediens mundiim, dixit: Hostiam 
noluisti . . . Tunc dixi: Ecce venio. In capite, etc. " Through 



LETTERS 33^ 

the Eternal Spirit he offered himself. When He cometh into 
the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not 
Then said 1, Lo, I come." This is his oblation. His sanctifi- 
cation was immediate upon his oblation. This sacrifice lasted 
all his life, and was accomplished by his death. " Ought 
he not to have suffered these things, and to enter into his 
glory ? " " Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience 
by the things which he suffered." But " in the days of his 
flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with 
strong cries and tears unto him that was able to save, he was 
heard in that he feared : " and God raised him from the dead, 
and sent him his glory, prefigured formerly by the fire from 
heaven that fell upon the victim to burn and consume his 
body, and to make it five the spiritual life of glory. This 
is what Jesus Christ has obtained, and what has been ac- 
complished through his resurrection. 

Thus this sacrifice being perfected by the death of Christ, 
and consummated even in his body by his resurrection, in 
which the image of sinful flesh was absorbed by glory, 
Jesus Christ had wholly finished his part; it remained only 
that the sacrifice should be accepted of God, that, as the 
smoke ascended and carried the odor to the throne of God, 
thus Jesus Christ was, in this state of perfect immolation, 
offered, carried to, and accepted at the throne of God him- 
self : and this it is that has been accomplished in the ascen- 
sion, in which he mounted on high and by his own power 
and by the power of his Holy Spirit, which surrounded him 
on every side, was carried away ; as the smoke of the victims, 
the emblem of Jesus Christ, was carried on high by the air 
that sustained it, the type of the Holy Spirit: and the Acts 
of the Apostles indicate to us expressly that he was re- 
ceived up into heaven, in order to assure us that this holy 
sacrifice accomplished on earth was welcome and acceptable 
to God, and was received into the bosom of God, to shine in 
glory through ages upon ages. 

This is the state of things as regards our sovereign Lord. 
Let us consider them now in ourselves. From the moment 
we enter the Church, which is the world of the Faithful and 
especially of the elect, into which Jesus Christ entered at 
the moment of his incarnation by a privilege peculiar to the 



340 PASCAL 

only Son of God, we are offered and sacrificed. This sacri- 
fice is continued by life and completed at death, in which 
the soul truly quitting all vices, and the love of the world, 
with the contagion of which it is always infected through- 
out life, achieves its immolation and is received into the 
bosom of God. 

Let us not grieve then like the heathen who have no hope. 
We did not lose our father at the moment of his death: we 
lost him, so to say, when he entered the Church through 
baptism. From that time, he belonged to God; his life was 
devoted to God; his actions regarded the world only for 
God. In his death, he became totally separated from sin, 
and it was at that moment that he was accepted by God, 
and that his sacrifice received its accomplishment and its 
consummation. He has performed therefore what he had 
vowed: he has finished the work that God had given him 
to do ; he has accomplished the only thing for which he was 
created. The will of God is accomplished in him, and his 
will is absorbed in God. Let not our will then separate what 
God has joined together; and let us stifle or moderate, by the 
understanding of truth, the feelings of a corrupt and fallen 
nature which has only false images, and which troubles 
by its illusions the sanctity of the feelings which truth and 
the Gospel should give us. 

Let us then no longer look upon death like the heathen, 
but like Christians, that is with hope, as St. Paul commands, 
since this is the especial privilege of Christians. Let us no 
longer regard a corpse as putrid carrion because deceitful 
nature figures it thus; but as the inviolable and eternal 
temple of the Holy Spirit, as faith teaches. For we know 
that sainted bodies are inhabited by the Holy Spirit until 
the resurrection, which will be caused by virtue of this spirit 
which dwells in them for this effect. It is for this reason 
that we honor the relics of the dead, and it was on this 
true principle that the Eucharist was formerly placed in the 
mouth of the dead, since, as it was known that they were 
the temple of the Holy Spirit, it was believed that they also 
merited to be united to this holy sacrament. But the Church 
has changed this custom, not in order that these bodies shall 
not be holy, but for the reason that the Eucharist being the 



LETTERS 341 

bread of life and of the living, it ought not to be given to 
the dead. 

Let us no longer regard a man as having ceased to live 
although nature suggests it; but as beginning to live, as 
truth assures. Let us no longer regard his soul as perished 
and reduced to nothingness, but as quickened and united to 
the sovereign life; and let us thus correct, by attention to 
these truths, the sentiments of error so deeply imprinted 
in ourselves and those emotions of honor so natural to man- 
kind. 

To subdue this dread more effectually, it is necessary fully 
to comprehend its origin; and to paint it to you in a few 
words, I am forced to tell you in general what is the source 
of all vice and all sin. This I have learned from two very 
great and holy personages. The truth covered by this 
mystery is that God has created man with two loves, the one 
for God, the other for himself; but with this law, that the 
love for God shall be infinite, that is without any other 
limits than God himself; and that the love for self shall be 
finite and relating to God. 

Man in this state not only loves himself without sin, but 
could not do otherwise than love himself without sin. 

Since, sin being come, man has lost the first of these 
loves ; and the love for himself being left alone in this great 
soul capable of an infinite love, this self-love has extended 
and overflowed in the empty space which the love of iGod 
has quitted; and thus he loves himself alone, and all things 
for himself, that is, infinitely. This is the origin of self- 
love. It was natural to Adam and just in his innocence; 
but it became criminal and immoderate after his sin. 

Here is the source of this love, and the cause of its defect 
and of its excess. It is the same with the passion of ruling, 
of indolence, and others. The application is easy. Let us 
come to our single subject. The dread of death was natural 
to innocent Adam, because, his life being pleasing to God, 
it must have been pleasing to man : and death was terrible 
when it ended a life conformed to the will of God. Since, 
man having sinned, his life has become corrupt, his body 
and soul enemies to each other, and both to God. This 
horrible change having infected so holy a. life, the love of 



342 PASCAL 

life has nevertheless remained; and the dread of death being 
equally felt, that which was just in Adam is unjust and 
criminal in us. 

Such is the origin of the dread of death and the cause of 
its faultiness. Let us then illumine the error of nature by 
the light of faith. The dread of death is natural, but it is 
in the state of innocence; death in truth is terrible, but it 
is when it puts an end to a pure life. It was just to hate 
it when it separated a holy soul from a holy body ; but it is 
just to love it when it separates a holy soul from an impure 
body. It was just to flee it, when it broke the peace between 
the body and the soul; but not when it calms the irrecon- 
cilable dissension between them. In short, when it afflicted 
an innocent body, when it took away from the body the lib- 
erty of honoring God, when it separated from the soul a body 
submissive to and co-operative with its will, when it put an 
end to all the good of which man is capable, it was just to 
abhor it; but when it puts an end to an impure life, when it 
takes away from the body the liberty of sinning, when it 
delivers the soul from a powerful rebel that contradicts all 
the motives for its salvation, it is very unjust to preserve 
the same feelings. 

Let us not therefore relinquish this love for life which 
nature has given us, since we have received it from pod; 
but let this be for the same life for which God has given 
it to us and not for a contrary object. In consenting to the 
love that Adam had for his innocent life and that Jesus 
Christ himself had for his own, let us bring ourselves to hate 
a life contrary to that which Jesus Christ has loved, and only 
to fear the death which Jesus Christ has feared, which 
comes to a body pleasing to God; but not to fear a death 
that, punishing a guilty body, and purging a vicious body, 
ought to give us quite contrary feelings, if we have any 
thing of faith, of hope, and of charity. 

It is one of the great principles of Christianity that every 
thing that happened to Jesus Christ should take place in the 
soul and the body of each Christian: that as Jesus Christ 
suffered during his mortal life, died to this mortal life, was 
raised to a new life, ascended to heaven, and sitteth at the 
right hand of the Father ; so the body and soul should suffer, 



LETTERS 343 

die, be raised from the dead, ascend to heaven, and sit at the 
right hand of God. All these things are accomplished in 
the soul during life, but not in the body. The soul suffers 
and dies to sin in penitence and in baptism ; the soul is raised 
again to a new life in the same baptism; the soul quits the 
earth and ascends to heaven at death, and takes its seat at 
the right hand of God at the time that he appoints. None 
of these things happen to the body during this life ; but the 
same things befall it afterwards. For at death the body 
dies to its mortal life; at the judgment it will rise to a new 
life; after the judgment, it will ascend to heaven and will 
sit at the right hand of God. Thus the same things happen 
to the body and the soul, but at different times; and the 
changes of the body come only when those of the soul are 
accomplished, that is at the hour of death: so that death is 
the consummation of the beatitude of the soul and the com- 
mencement of the beatitude of the body. 

These are the admirable ways of the wisdom of God for 
the salvation of his saints, and St. Augustine teaches us on 
this subject, that God has arranged them in this wise for 
fear that if the body of man should die and rise again for- 
ever at baptism, men would only enter into the obedience of 
the Gospel through the love of life ; whilst the grandeur of 
faith shines forth far more when it tends to immortality 
through the shades of death. 

This is, certainly, our belief and the faith that we profess, 
and I believe that there is in this more than is needed to aid 
your consolations by my small efforts. I should not under- 
take to carry you this aid of myself; but as these are only 
repetitions of what I have learned, I give them with assur- 
ance, praying God to bless these seeds, and to give them 
growth, for without him we can do nothing, and his most 
holy words will not take root in us, as he himself has said. 

It is not that I wish that you should be without feeling; 
the blow is too sensible ; it would be even insupportable with- 
out supernatural aid. It is not therefore right that we 
should be without grief, like the angels who have no senti- 
ment of nature; neither is it right that we should be without 
consolation, like the heathen who have no sentiment of 
grace: but it is ri^ht that we should be afflicted and con= 



344 PASCAL 

soled like Christians, and that the consolations of grace 
should overcome the feelings of nature; that we should say 
with the apostles: "We are afflicted but not cast down," in 
order that grace may not only be in us but victorious in us ; 
that thus, in sanctifying the name of our Father, his will 
may be made ours; that his grace may reign and prevail 
over nature, and that our afflictions may be as the substance 
of a sacrifice which his grace perfects and annihilates for 
the glory of God; and that these individual sacrifices may 
honor and precede the universal sacrifice wherein all nature 
should be perfected by the power of Jesus Christ. Thus we 
derive advantage from our own imperfections, since they 
serve as material for this sacrifice ; for it is the aim of true 
Christians to profit by their own imperfections, because " all 
things work together for good to the elect." 

And if we pay close attention to this, we shall find great 
advantages for our edification, in considering the thing truly 
as we said just now. For, since it is true that the death of 
the body is only the type of that of the soul, and since we 
build upon the principle that in this chance we have all 
possible reason to hope for its sure salvation, it is certain 
that if we cannot arrest the progress of grief, we should 
derive this benefit, that since the death of the body is so 
terrible that it causes in us such emotions, that of the soul 
ought to cause in us those far more inconsolable. God sends 
us the first, God turns away the second. Let us then con- 
sider the greatness of our blessings in the greatness of our 
ills, and let the excess of our grief be in proportion to that 
of our joy. 

There is nothing that can moderate it, except the fear that 
he may languish for some time in the pains wiiich are 
destined to purge the remains of the sin of this life, 
and we ought carefully to apply ourselves to appease the 
anger of God towards him. Prayer and sacrifices are a 
sovereign remedy for his pains. But I have learned of a 
holy man in our affliction that one of the most solid and use- 
ful charities towards the dead is to do the things that they 
would command were they still in the world, to practise the 
holy advice which they have given us, and put ourselves, for 
their sakes, in the condition in which they would wish us at 



LETTERS 345 

present. By this practice, we shall in some sort revive them 
in ourselves, since their counsels are still living and acting 
within us; and as heresiarchs are punished in the other life 
for the sins into which they have drawn their votaries, in 
whom their venom is still living, so the dead are recom- 
pensed, exclusive of their own merit, for those to whom 
they have given succession by their counsels and their ex- 
ample. 

Let us strive then with all our power to revive him in us 
before God; and let us console ourselves in the union of our 
hearts, in which it seems to me that he still lives, and that 
our reunion in some sort restores to us his presence, as 
Jesus Christ makes himself present in the assembly of his 
faithful. 

I pray God to form and to maintain these sentiments in 
us, and to continue those which it appears to me he has given 
me, of having more tenderness than ever for you and for my 
sister; for it seems to me that the love that we had for my 
father ought not to be lost, and that we should make a 
division of it among ourselves, and that we should chiefly 
inherit the affection which he bore to us, to love each other 
still more cordially if possible. 

I pray God to strengthen us in these resolutions, and in 
this hope I entreat you to permit me to give you a counsel 
which indeed you could take without me; but I shall not 
refrain from giving it. It is that after having found 
grounds of consolation for him, we shall not come to lack 
them for ourselves by dwelling upon the need and the utility 
that we shall have of his presence. 

It is I who am the most interested in it. If I had lost him 
six years ago, I should have lost myself, and although I be- 
lieve my necessity of him at present to be less absolute, I 
know that he would still have been necessary to me ten years 
and useful all my life. But we should hope that God having 
ordered it in such a time, such a place and such a manner, 
it is doubtless the most expedient for his glory and for our 
salvation. 

However strange this may appear, I believe that we should 
regard all events in the same manner, and that, however 
sinister they may appear to us, we should hope that God 



346 PASCAL 

would draw from them a source of joy to us if we will but 
intrust the direction of them to him. We know of persons 
of condition who have feared the death of relatives which 
God has perhaps averted at their prayer, who have caused 
or been the occasion of so much misery that there was 
reason to wish that the prayers had not been granted. 

Man is assuredly too weak to judge soundly of the result 
of future things. Let us therefore hope in God, and let us 
not weary ourselves by rash and indiscreet forecasts. Let us 
commit ourselves then to God for the direction of our lives, 
and that grief may not prevail within us. 

St. Augustine teaches us that there is in every man a 
serpent, an Eve and an Adam. The serpent is the senses and 
our nature, the Eve is the concupiscible appetite, and the 
Adam is the reason. Nature tempts us continually, concu- 
piscible appetite often fills us with desires, but the sin is not 
consummated if reason does not consent. Let the serpent 
and the Eve therefore act if we cannot hinder it; but let us 
pray to God that his grace may so strengthen our Adam that 
he may remain victorious ; and that Jesus Christ may be the 
conqueror over him and may reign eternally in us. Amen. 



5 

Extract from a Letter of M. Pascal to M. Perier 

Paris, Friday, June 6, 1653 
I have just received your letter, inclosing that of my sister, 
which I have not had leisure to read, and moreover believe 
that this would be useless. 

My sister made her profession yesterday, Thursday, the 
5th of June, 1653. It was impossible for me to delay her: 
the Messieurs of Port Royal feared that a slight delay 
might bring on a greater one, and wished to hasten it for 
the reason that they hope ere long to put her in office; and 
consequently, it was necessary to hasten, because for this 
several years of profession are needed. This is the way 
they paid me. In fine, I could not, etc. 



LETTERS 



6 



Extract from a Letter to Madame Perier, upon the Pro- 
jected Marriage of Mademoiselle Jacqueline Perier 

1659. 

In general, their advice was that you could in no way, 
without mortally wounding charity and your conscience, and 
rendering yourself guilty of one of the greatest crimes, 
pledge a child of her age and innocence, and even of her 
piety, to the most perilous and lowest of the conditions of 
Christianity. That indeed, according to the world, the affair 
had no difficulty, and she was to conclude it without hesita- 
tion; but that according to God, she had less difficulty in it, 
and she was to reject it without hesitation, because the con- 
dition of an advantageous marriage is as desirable in the 
opinion of the world as it is vile and prejudicial in the sight 
of God. That not knowing to what she may be called, nor 
whether her temperament may not be so tranquil that she can 
support her virginity with piety, it were little to know the 
value of it to pledge her to lose this good so desirable to 
every one in himself, and so desirable to fathers and mothers 
for their children, since as they can no longer desire it for 
themselves, it is in them that they should strive to render to 
God what they have lost in general for other causes than for 
God. 

Besides, that husbands, although rich and wise in the 
opinion of the world, are in truth complete pagans in the 
sight of God ; so that the last words of these gentlemen are 
that to pledge a child to an ordinary man is a species of 
homicide and a deicide as it were in their own persons. 



7 

Note from Pascal to the Marchioness de Sable 

December, 1660. 
Although I am much embarrassed, I can no longer defer 
rendering you a thousand thanks for having procured me the 



348 PASCAL 

acquaintance of M. Menjot; for it is doubtless to you, 
Madame, that I owe it ; and as I esteemed him highly already 
from the things which my sister had told me of him, I can- 
not tell you with how much joy I have received the favor 
which he has wished to render me. It is only necessary to 
read his letter to see how much intellect and judgment he 
possesses ; and although I may not be capable of understand- 
ing the depth of the matters which he treats in his book, 
I will tell you, nevertheless, Madame, that I have learned 
much from the manner in which he reconciles in a few 
words the immateriality of the soul with the power of matter 
to change its functions and to cause delirium. I am very 
impatient to have the honor to converse with you on it. 



8 
Fragment of a Letter to M. Perier 

1661. 

You give me pleasure by sending me all the details of your 
controversies, and chiefly because you are interested therein ; 
for I imagine that you do not imitate our controversialists of 
this country, who avail themselves so badly, at least so it 
seems to me, of the advantage which God offers them of suf- 
fering something for the establishment of his truths. For, if 
this were for the establishment of their truths, they would 
not act differently; and it seems that they are ignorant that 
the same Providence that has inspired some with light, has 
refused it to others ; and it seems that in laboring to persuade 
them of it they are serving another God than the one who 
permits the obstacles that oppose their progress. They think 
to render service to God by murmuring against the hin- 
drances, as if this were another power that should excite 
their piety, and another that should give vigor to those who 
oppose them. 

This is what comes of self-will. When we wish by our 
own efforts that something shall succeed, we become irri- 
tated with obstacles, because we feel in these hindrances 
that the motive that makes us act has not placed them there. 



LETTERS 349 

and we find things in them which the self-will that makes 
us act has not formed there. 

But when God inspires our actions, we never feel any 
thing outside that does not come from the same principle 
that causes us to act; there is no opposition in the motive 
that impels us; the same motive power which leads us to 
act, leads others to resist us, or permits them at least; so 
that as we find no difference in this, and as it is not our 
own will that combats external events, but the same will 
that produces the good and permits the evil, this uniformity 
does not trouble the peace of the soul, and is one of the best 
tokens that we are acting by the will of God, since it is 
much more certain that God permits the evil, however great 
it may be, than that God causes the good in us (and not 
some secret motive), however great it may appear to us; 
so that in order really to perceive whether it is God that 
makes us act, it is much better to test ourselves by our de- 
portment without than by our motives within, since if we 
only examine ourselves within, although we may find nothing 
but good there, we cannot assure ourselves that this good 
comes truly from God. But when we examine ourselves with- 
out, that is when we consider whether we suffer external hin- 
drances with patience, this signifies that there is a uniformity 
of will between the motive power that inspires our passions 
and the one that permits the resistance to them ; and as there 
is no doubt that it is God who permits the one, we have 
a right humbly to hope that it is God who produces the 
other. 

But what ! we act as if it were our mission to make truth 
triumph whilst it is only our mission to combat for it. The 
desire to conquer is so natural that when it is covered by the 
desire of making the truth triumph, we often take the one 
for the other, and think that we are seeking the glory of 
God when in truth we are seeking our own. It seems to me 
that the way in which we support these hindrances is the 
surest token of it, for in fine if we wish only the order estab- 
lished by God, it is certain that we wish the triumph of his 
justice as much as that of his mercy, and that when it does 
not come of our negligence, we shall be in an equal mood, 
whether the truth be known or whether it be combated, since 



350 PASCAL 

in the one the mercy of God triumphs, and in the other, his 
justice. 

Pater jiiste^ mimdus fe non cognovit. Righteous father, 
the world has not known thee. Upon which St. Augustine 
says that it is through his justice that the world has not 
known him. Let us pray, labor, and rejoice evermore, as 
St. Paul says. 

If you had reproved me in my first faults, I should not 
have been guilty of this, and should have been moderate. 
But I shall not suppress this any more than the other; you 
can suppress it yourself if you wish. I could not refrain, 
so angry am I against those who insist absolutely that the 
truth shall be believed when they demonstrate it, which 
Jesus Christ did not do in his created humanity. It is a 
mockery, and it seems to me treating . , , I am grieved 
on account of the malady of M. de Laporte. I assure you 
that I honor him with all my heart I, etc. 



9 

Letter to Madame Perier 

(Addressed: A Mademoiselle Perier la Conseillere.) 

Rouen, Saturday, the last of January, 1643. 
My Dear Sister, 

I doubt not that you have been greatly troubled at the 
length of time in which you have received no news from 
these parts. But I think that you must have suspected that 
the journey of the Elus has been the cause, as in fact it was. 
Had it not been for this, I should not have failed to write 
to you oftener. I have to tell you that Messieurs the com- 
missioners being at Gizors, my father made me take a tour 
to Paris, where I found a letter which you had written, in 
which you say that you are surprised that I reproach you 
that you do not write often enough, and in which you tell me 
that you write to Rouen once every week. It is very certain, 
if this is so, that the letters are lost, for I do not receive one 
once in three weeks. On my return to Rouen, I found a 
letter from M. Perier, who writes that you are ill. He docs 



LETTERS 3S1 

not write whether your sickness is dangerous or whether you 
are better; and an unusual length of time has passed since 
without having received any letter, so that we are in an 
anxiety from which I pray you to relieve us as soon as 
possible; but I think the prayer I make you will be useless, 
for before you shall have received this letter, I hope that we 
shall have received letters from you or from M. Perier, 
The department is finished, God be praised. If J knew oi 
any thing new, I would let you know it. I am, my d^ar 
sister, etc. 

Postscript in the handwriting of Etienne Pascal, the 
father : " My dear daughter will excuse me if I do not write 
to her as I wished, having no leisure for it ; for I have never 
been in a tenth part the perplexity that I am at present. I 
could not be more so without being overwhelmed; for the 
last four months I have not been in bed six times before 
two o'clock in the morning. 

"I lately commenced a jesting letter upon the subject of 
your last, concerning the marriage of M. Desjeux, but I 
have never had leisure to finish it. For news, the daughter 
of M. de Paris, maitre des comptes, the wife of M. de Neu- 
firlle, also maitre des comptes, is dead, as well as the daugh- 
ter of Belair, the wife of young Lambert. Your little boy 
slept here last night. He is very well, thank God. 

" I am ever your true and affectionate friend, 

" Pascal." 

Your very humble and affectionate servant and brother, 

Pascal. 

10 

Note from Pascal to his sister, Madame Perier 

(Superscribed, To Mademoiselle Perier, at Clermont, in 
Auvergne.) 

My Dear Sister, 

I do not believe that it is quite right that you should be 
vexed; for, if you are not so because we have forgotten 
you, then you ought not to be at all. I tell you no news. 



352 PASCAL 

for there is too much that is general, and there must always 
be too much that is private. I should have much to tell 
you that happens in complete secrecy, but I regard it as 
useless to send it to you; all that I pray you is, to mingle 
acts of grace with the prayers which you make for me, and 
which I entreat you to multiply at this time. I carried your 
letter myself with the aid of God, in order that it might be 
forwarded to Madame de Maubuisson. They gave me a little 
book, in which this sentence was written with the hand/ I 
know not whether it is in the little book of sentences, but 
it is beautiful. I am so much hurried that I can say no more. 
Do not fail in your fasts. Adieu. 



II 

Letters to Mademoiselle de Roannez" 

t 

1656. 

In order to answer all the points upon which you ad- 
dress me, and, indeed, to write, although my time is 
limited. 

I am delighted that you like the book of M. de Laval,^ and 
the Meditations on Grace; I draw from this important con- 
clusions for what I desire. 

I send the details of this condemnation which had fright- 
ened* you : it is nothing at all, thank God, and it is a miracle 
that nothing worse is done, since the enemies of truth have 
the power and the will to oppress him. Perhaps you are of 
those who merit not to be abandoned by God, and removed 
from an undeserving world, and he is assured that you will 
serve the Church by your prayers, if the Church has served 
you by hers. For it is the Church that merits with Jesus 

* It is wanting here. — W. 

* Charlotte GouflSer de Roannez, sister of the duke of this name, the 
friend of Pascal, and one of the editors of the Thoughts. 

* Pseudonym under which the Duke de Luynes published different works 
of piety, among others. Sentences drawn from Holy Scripture and the 
Fathers.— W. 

* The allusion is probably to the censure of the Sorbonne against Arnauldj 
in 1656.— W. 



LETTERS 553 

Christ, who is inseparable from her, the conversion of all 
those who are not in the truth; and it is in turn these con- 
verted persons who succor the mother who has delivered 
them. I praise with all my heart the little zeal that I have 
recognized in your letter for the union with the pope. The 
body is not more living without the head, than the head 
without the body. Whoever separates himself from the one 
or the other is no longer of the body, and belongs no more 
to Jesus Christ. I know not whether there are persons in 
the Church more attached to this unity of body than those 
that you call ours. We know that all the virtues, martyrdom, 
the austerities and all good works are useless out of the 
Church, and out of communion with the head of the Church, 
which is the pope. I will never separate myself from his 
vommunion, at least I pray God to give me this grace, without 
v^hich I should be lost forever. 

I make to you a sort of profession of faith, and I know 
not wherefore; but I would neither efface it nor commence 
it again. 

M. Du Gas has spoken to me this morning of your letter 
with as much astonishment and joy as it is possible to have: 
he knows not where you have taken what he has reported to 
me of your words ; he has said to me surprising things, that 
no longer surprise me so much. I begin to accustom myself 
to you and to the grace that God gives you, and nevertheless 
I avow to you that it is to me always new, as it is always new 
in reality. 

For it is a continual flow of graces that the Scripture com- 
pares to a river, and to the light which the sun continually 
emits from itself, and is always new, so that if it ceased an 
instant to emit them, all that we have received would disap- 
pear, and we should remain in darkness. 

He has said to me that he had begun a response to you, 
and that he would transcribe it to render it more legible, and 
that, at the same time, he would extend it. But he has just 
sent it to me with a little note, wherein he informs me that he 
has been able neither to transcribe it nor to extend it; this 
makes me think that it will be ill-written. But I am a wit- 
ness of his want of leisure, and of his desire that he had 
leisure for your sake. 

fiC XL VIII (l) 



S54 PASCAL 

I take part in the joy that the affair of the . . ,* will 
afford you, for I see clearly that you are interested for the 
Church: you are indeed under obligations to her. For six- 
teen hundred years she has groaned for you. It is time to 
groan for her and for us altogether, and to give her all that 
remains to us of life, since Jesus Christ has assumed life 
only to lose it for her and for us. 



n 

October, 1656. 

It seems to me that you take sufficient interest in the 
miracle to send you particular notice that its verification is 
consummated by the Church, as you will see by the sentence 
of the grand vicar. 

There are so few persons to whom God would manifest 
himself by these extraordinary acts, that we ought indeed to 
profit by these occasions, since he does not leave the secrecy 
of the nature that covers him but to excite our faith to serve 
him with so much the more ardor as we know him with the 
more certainty. 

If God discovered himself continually to men, there would 
be no merit in believing him; and, if he never discovered 
himself, there would be little faith. But he conceals himself 
ordinarily and discovers himself rarely to those whom he 
wishes to engage in his service. This strange secrecy, in 
which God is impenetrably withdrawn from the sight of men, 
Is a great lesson to betake ourselves to solitude far from the 
sight of men. He remiained concealed under the veil of the 
nature that covers him till the Incarnation ; and when it was 
necessary that he should appear, he concealed himself stil^ 
the more in covering himself with humanity. He was much 
more recognizable when he was invisible than when he ren- 
dered himself visible. And in fine, when he wished to fulfil 
the promise that he made to his apostles to remain with men 
until his final coming, he chose to remain in the strangest and 
most obscure secret of all, which are the species of the Eu- 
charist. It is this sacrament that St. John calls in the Apoc- 
* In the manuscript of the Oratory: cf the Nuns.—Faugire, 



LETTERS 35S 

alypse a concealed manner; and I believe that Isaiah saw it 
in that state, when he said in the spirit of prophecy: Truly 
thou art a God concealed. This is the last secrecy wherein 
he can be. The veil of nature that covers God has been 
penetrated by some of the unbelieving, who, as St, Paul says, 
have recognized an invisible God in visible nature. Heretical 
Christians have recognized him through his humanity and 
adored Jesus Christ God and man. But to recognize him 
under the species of bread is peculiar to Catholics alone: 
none but us are thus enlightened by God. We may add to 
these considerations the secrecy of the spirit of God con- 
cealed still in the Scripture. For there are two perfect 
senses, the literal and the mystical; and the Jews, stopping 
at the one, do not even think that there is another, and take 
no thought for searching it out, just as the impious, seeing 
natural effects, attribute them to nature, without thinking 
that there is another author, and, as the Jews, seeing a 
perfect man in Jesus Christ, have not thought to seek in 
him another nature: IVe had not thought that it was he, 
again says Isaiah: and just as, in fine, the heretics, seeing 
the perfect appearances of bread in the Eucharist, do not 
think to see it in another substance. All things cover some 
mystery; all things have veils that cover God. Christians 
ought to recognize him in every thing. Temporal afflictions 
cover eternal goods to which they lead. Temporal joys cover 
eternal ills that they cause. Let us pray God to make us 
recognize and serve him in every thing; let us give him 
countless thanks that, having concealed himself in all things 
for others, he has discovered kimself in all things and in so 
many ways for us. 



I KNOW not how you have taken the loss of your letters. I 
could wish indeed that you may have taken it as you ought. 
It is time to begin to judge of what is good or bad by the will 
of God, who can be neither unjust nor blind, and not by our 
own, which is always full of malice and error. If you have 
had these sentiments, I shall be greatly pleased, inasmuch as 
you will have received consolation for a more valid reason 



356 PASCAL 

than that which I have to communicate to you, which is that 
I hope that they are found again. That of the 5th has already 
been brought to me; and although it is not the most impor- 
tant (for that of M. du Gas is more so), nevertheless this 
makes me hope to recover the other. 

I know not why you complain that I have written nothing 
for you, — I do not separate you two, and continually think of 
both. You see plainly that my other letters, and this also, re- 
fer sufficiently to you. In truth, I cannot refrain from telling 
you that I could wish to be infallible in my judgments; you 
would not be badly off if that were the case, for I am very 
much pleased with you; but my judgment is nothing. I say 
this with reference to the manner in which I see you speak 
of that good persecuted friar, and of what * * * does. I am 
not surprised to see M'. N. interested in the matter, I am ac- 
customed to his zeal, but yours is wholly new; this new 
language is usually the product of a new heart. Jesus Christ 
has given in the Church this sign whereby to recognize those 
who have faith, — that they shall speak a new language; and 
in fact the renewal of thoughts and desires causes that of 
discourse. What you say of days passed in solitude, and the 
consolation afforded you by reading, are things that M. N. 
will be extremely happy to know when I shall make him ac- 
quainted with them, and my sister also. These certainly 
are new things, but they must be unceasingly renewed, for 
this newness, which cannot be displeasing to God as the 
old man cannot be pleasing to him, is different from earthly 
novelties, inasmuch as worldly things, however new they 
may be, grow old as they endure; whilst this new spirit is 
renewed the more, the longer it endures. Our old man per- 
ishes, says St. Paul, and is renewed day by day, and will 
be perfectly new only in eternity, when shall be sung without 
ceasing that new song of which David speaks in the Psalms; 
that is the song that springs from the new spirit of love. 

I will tell you for news, of what concerns these two per- 
sons, that I clearly perceive their zeal does not grow cold; 
this surprises me, for it is much more rare to see continua- 
tion in piety than to see entrance upon it. I have them 
always in mind, especially her of the miracle, because there 
is something in her case more extraordinary, although the 



LETTERS 357 

other may be also very extraordinary and almost without 
example. It is certain that the graces conferred by God in 
this life are the measure of the glory prepared by him for 
the other. Thus when I foresee the end and crown of this 
work by the commencements that appear in pious persons, 
I feel a veneration that overcomes me with respect towards 
those whom he seems to have chosen for his elect. I confess 
to you that it seems to me that I see them already on one of 
those thrones where those who shall have left all will judge 
the world with Jesus Christ, according to the promise that 
he has made. But when I come to think that these same per- 
sons may fall, and be on the contrary, of the unfortunate 
number of the judged, and that there will be so many of 
them who will fall from glory and leave to others by their 
negligence the crown that God had offered them, I cannot 
bear the thought ; and the distress that I should feel in seeing 
them in this eternal state of misery, after having imagined 
them with so much reason in the other state, makes me turn 
my mind from the idea and recur to God in order to pray 
him not to abandon the weak creatures that he has acquired, 
and to say to him for the two persons whom you know what 
the Church says to-day with St. Paul : O Lord, do thou 
complete that work which thou thyself hast commenced. 
St. Paul often regarded himself in these two states, and it is 
what makes him say elsewhere : / keep under my body, and 
bring it into subjection; lest when I have preached to others, 
I myself be a castaway. I end therefore with these words of 
Job: / have always feared the Lord like the waves of a 
raging sea and swollen to engulf me. And elsewhere : Happy 
is the man that feareth always! 



IV 

It is very certain that separation never takes place without 
pain. We do not feel our bond when we voluntarily follow 
the object that leads us, as St. Augustine says; but when we 
begin to resist and draw back, we suffer; the bond stretches 
and suffers violence; and this bond is our body, which is 
broken but by death. Our Lord has said that since the com- 



358 PASCAL 

ing of John the Baptist, that is, since his coming in each of 
the faithful, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the 
violent take it by storm. Before we are touched by the spirit 
we feel nothing but the burden of concupiscence that presses 
us to the earth. When God draws us on high, these two 
opposing efforts cause that violence which he alone can en- 
able us to overcome. But we can do all things, says St. Leon, 
with him, without zvhom we can do nothing. We must then 
resolve to endure this warfare all our lives; for here there 
is no peace. Christ came not to bring peace, but a sword. 
Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that, as Scripture 
says, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; so 
it may be said that this warfare which appears hard to men 
is peace with God, for it is the peace which Jesus Christ 
himself has brought us. Yet it will not be perfected until 
the body shall be destroyed; and this it is which makes us 
wish for death, while we nevertheless cheerfully endure life 
for the love of him who has suffered both life and death 
for us, and who is able to give us more than we can ask 
or think, as says St. Paul in the Epistle of to-day. 



God be praised, I have no more fears for you, but am full 
of hope! These are consoling words indeed of Jesus Christ: 
To him that hath shall be given. By this promise, those who 
have received much have the right to hope for more, and 
those who have received extraordinarily should hope ex- 
traordinarily. I try as much as I can to let nothing distress 
me, and to take every thing that happens as for the best. 
I believe that this is a duty, and that we sin in not doing 
so. For, in short, the reason why sins are sins is only be- 
cause they are contrary to the will of God: and the essence 
of sin thus consisting in having a will opposed to that which 
we know to be of God, it is plain, it appears to me, that when 
he discovers his will to us by events, it would be a sin not 
to conform ourselves to it. I have learned that in every thing 
that happens there is something worthy of admiration, since 
the will of God is manifest in it. I praise him with all my 



LETTERS 359 

heart for the continuation of his favors, for I see plainly that 
they do not diminish. 

The affair of "^ * * does not go on very well : it is a thing 
that makes those tremble who are truly the children of God 
to see the persecution which is in preparation, not only 
against individuals (this would be little) but against the 
Truth. To speak truly, God is indeed abandoned. It appears 
to me that this is a time in which the service that we render 
him is very pleasing to him. He desires that we should 
judge of grace by nature, and thus we may be allowed to 
suppose that as a prince driven from his country by his 
subjects feels extreme tenderness for those who remain 
faithful to him amidst the public revolt, in the same manner, 
God looks with especial favor upon those who are at this 
time defending the purity of religion and morals, so warmly 
assailed. But there is this difference between the kings of 
the earth and the King of kings, that the princes do not ren- 
der their subjects faithful, but find them so; whilst God 
never finds men other than unfaithful, and renders them 
faithful when they are so. So that while the kings of the 
earth are under signal obligations to those who adhere to 
their allegiance, it happens, on the contrary, that those who 
subsist in the service of God are themselves infinitely in- 
debted to him. Let us continue then to praise him for this 
grace, if he has bestowed it upon us, for which we shall 
praise him throughout eternity, and let us pray that he may 
give us still more of it, and that he may look with pity upon 
us and upon the whole Church, outside of which there is 
nothing but malediction. 

I am interested in the victim of persecution of whom you 
speak. I see plainly that God has reserved to himself some 
hidden servants, as he said to Elijah. I pray him that we 
may be of the number, and that In spirit, in sincerity, and in 
truth. 



vr 

Whatever may come of the affair of * * *, enough, thank 
God, has already been done to draw an admirable advantage 
torn it against these accursed precepts. There is need tiiat 



360 PASCAL 

those who have taken any part in this should render great 
thanks to God, and that their relatives and friends should 
pray to God for them that they may not fall from the great 
happiness and honor which he has bestowed on them. All the 
honors of the world are but the image of this; this alone is 
solid and real, and nevertheless it is useless without the 
right frame of heart. It is not bodily austerities nor mental 
exercises, but good impulses of the heart, which are of merit 
and which sustain the sufferings of the body and the mind. 
For in short two things are necessary for sanctification — 
sufferings and joys. St. Paul says that we must through 
much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. This 
should console those who experience tribulation, since, be- 
ing warned that the path to heaven which they seek is filled 
with it, they should rejoice at meeting tokens that they 
are in the right way. But these very sufferings are not 
without joys, and are never surmounted but by pleasure. 
For as those who forsake God to return to the world do it 
only because they find more enjoyment in the pleasures of 
the world than in those of a union with God, and because 
this conquering charm leads them away and, making them 
repent of their first choice, renders them penitents of the 
devil, according to the saying of Tertullian; so none would 
ever quit the pleasures of the world to embrace the cross of 
Jesus Christ, did he not find more enjoyment in con- 
tempt, in poverty, in destitution, and in the scorn of men, 
than in the delights of sin. And thus, says Tertullian, it 
must not he supposed that the Christian's life is a life of 
sadness. We forsake pleasures only for others which are 
greater. Pray without ceasing, says St. Paul, in every thing 
give thanks, rejoice evermore. It is the joy of having 
found God that is the principle of the sorrow of having 
offended him, and of the whole change of life. He that 
finds a treasure in a field, according to Jesus Christ, has 
such joy that he goes directly and sells all that he has to 
purchase the field. The people of the world know nothing 
of this joy, which the world can neither give nor take away, 
as is said by Jesus Christ. The blessed have this joy with- 
out sorrow; the people of the world have their sorrows 
without this joy, and Christians have this joy mingled with 



LETTERS 361 

the sorrow of having pursued other pleasures and the fear of 
losing it by the allurements of these same pleasures which 
tempt us without ceasing. And thus we should labor un- 
ceasingly to cherish this joy which moderates our fear, 
and to preserve this fear which preserves our joy, so that 
on feeling ourselves too much carried away by the one we 
may incline towards the other, and thus remain poised 
between the two. In the day of prosperity he joyful; hut 
in the day of adversity consider, says the Scripture, and 
so it shall be till the promise of Jesus Christ shall be ac- 
complished in us that our joy shall be full. Let us not 
then be cast down by sadness, nor believe that piety consists 
only in bitterness without consolation. The true piety, 
which is found perfect only in heaven, is so full of satis- 
factions that it overflows with them in its beginning, its 
progress, and its consummation. Its light is so shining that 
it is reflected on all about it ; and if there is sadness mingled 
with it, especially at the outset, this comes from ourselves 
and not from virtue; for it is not the effect of the piety 
that is springing up in us, but of the impiety that still is 
there. Remove the impiety and the joy will be unalloyed. 
Let us not ascribe this then to devotion, but to ourselves 
and seek relief from it only through our correction. 



VII 

I AM very glad of the hope which you give me of the 
success of the affair which you fear may make you vain. 
There is something to fear in any case; for, were it suc- 
cessful, I should fear from it that evil sorrow of which 
St. Paul says that it leads to death, instead of that different 
one that leads to life. 

It is certain that the matter was a thorny one, and that, 
if the person should be extricated from it, the result would 
give reason for some vanity, were it not that we had 
entreated it of God, and should therefore believe the good 
that comes of it his work. But if it should not succeed well, 
we ought not therefore to fall into despondency, for the 
same reason that having prayed to God in the affair, it is 



362 PASCAL 

evident that he has taken it into his own hand; thus he 
must be regarded as the author of all good and of all 
evil, with the exception of sin. Thereupon I would repeat 
to the person the passage of Scripture to which I have 
before referred: In the day of prosperity rejoice, hut in the 
day of adversity consider. Nevertheless, I must say to you 
in respect to the other person whom you know, who sends 
word that she has many things on her mind that trouble 
her, that I am very sorry to see her in this state. I am 
deeply grieved at her troubles, and should be glad to be able 
to relieve them; I entreat her not to anticipate the future, 
and to remember that, as our Lord has said. Sufficient unto 
the day is the evil thereof. 

The past ought not to trouble us, since we have only to 
feel regret for our faults; but the future ought to concern 

' us still less, since it is wholly beyond our control, and since 
perhaps we may not reach it at all. The present is the only 
time that is truly our own, and this we ought to employ 
according to the will of God. It is in this that our thoughts 
ought chiefly to be centred. Yet the world is so restless 
that men scarcely ever think of the present life and of the 
moment in which they are living, but of that in which they 
will live. In this manner we are always living in the future, 
and never in the present. Our Lord has willed that our fore- 
sight should not extend beyond the present day. These are 
the bounds within which we must keep both for our safety 
and for our own repose. For in truth, the Christian pre- 
cepts are those fullest of consolation, exceeding, I affirm, 
the maxims of the world. 

I also foresee many troubles, both for that person, for 
others, and for myself. But I pray to God, when I find 
myself absorbed in these forebodings, to restrain me within 

^ my prescribed course. I call myself to an account, and I 
find that I am neglecting to do many things that I ought at 
present, in order to escape from useless thoughts of the 
future on which, far from being obliged to dwell, it is on 
the contrary my duty not to dwell at all. It is only for 
want of not understanding how to know and study the 
present that we undertake to study the future. What I 

V say here, I say for myself, and not for that person who has 



LETTERS 363 

assuredly more virtue and reflection than I; but I show 
him my defect to hinder him from falling into it: we some- 
times correct ourselves better by the sight of evil than by 
the example of good; and it is well to accustom ourselves 
to profit by evil, since this is so common while goodness is 
so rare. 



VIII 

I PITY the person whom you know in the disquietude in 
which I know she is, and in which I am not surprised 
to see her. It is a little day of judgment which cannot 
come without a universal emotion of the person, as the gen- 
eral judgment will cause a general emotion in the world, 
those excepted who shall have already judged themselves, as 
she pretends to have done. This temporal suffering would 
guarantee her from the eternal, through the infinite merits 
of Jesus Christ, who has endured it and rendered it his 
own; this it is that should console her. Our yoke is also 
his own; without this it would be insupportable. 

Take my yoke upon you, says he. It is not our yoke; 
it is his, and he also bears it. Know, says he, that my 
yoke is easy and light. It is light only to him and to his 
divine power. I would say to her that she should remem- 
ber that these disquietudes come not from the good that 
is springing up in her, but from the evil which is still 
remaining and must be continually diminished; that she 
must do like a child that is being torn by robbers from the 
arms of its mother who will not let it go; for it should 
not charge the mother that fondly holds it back with the 
violence that it suffers, but its unjust ravishers. The whole 
office of Advent is well fitted to give courage to the weak; 
these words of Scripture : Take courage, ye fearful and un- 
believing, behold, your Redeemer cometh, are often re- 
peated there, and in the vesper service of to-day it is said: 
" Take courage and fear not ; for your God shall come to 
save and deliver you.** 



364 PASCAL 



IX 



Your letter has given me the greatest joy. I confess that 
I was beginning to fear or at least to be astonished. I know 
not what was the beginning of the trouble of which you 
speak; but I know that trouble must come. I was reading 
the thirteenth chapter of St. Mark. I was thinking of 
writing you; and I will tell you therefore what I found in 
it. Jesus Christ is there addressing a solemn discourse to 
his disciples on his second coming; and as whatever hap- 
pens to the Church happens also to each individual Chris- 
tian, it is certain that this whole chapter predicts the state 
of each person in whom on conversion the old man is de- 
stroyed, as well as that of the whole universe which shall be 
destroyed to give place to a new heaven and a new earth, 
as the Scripture says. And thus I should think that the 
overthrow of the reprobate temple, which prefigures the 
overthrow of the reprobate man within us, and of which it is 
said that there shall not be one stone left upon another, 
indicates that no passion of the old man shall remain;^ 
and these fierce contentions, bot\ civil and domestic, rep- 
resent so well the internal corA^icts experienced by those who 
give themselves up to Go'J, that nothing can be better de- 
picted. 

But very striking are these words : When ye shall see the 
abomination of desolation in the holy place, let not him 
that is on the house-top go into the house. It seems to me 
that this p<»tfectly predicts the times in which we live, 
m which moral corruption is in the houses of sanctity 
and in the books of theologians and ecclesiastics, in which 
we should least expect it. We must shun such disorder ; and 
woe to those with child and to those that give suck in those 
days, that is to those that are held back by worldly ties ! 
The words of a sainted woman are applicable herig: "We 
are not to consider whether we are called to quit the 
world, but solely whether we are called to remain in it, 
as we should not deliberate whether we were called to fly 
a house infected with plague or on fire." 

'The two MSS. of the Bibliotheque Imp. say: "no passion in us."^' 
Faugere. 



LETTERS 365 

This chapter of the Evangelist, which I should like to 
read with you entire, concludes with an exhortation to 
watch and pray in order to shun all these misfortunes, and 
in truth, it is proper indeed that when the danger is con- 
tinual the prayer should be continual also. 

For this purpose I send the prayers which were asked of 
me; it is now three an the afternoon. Since your de- 
parture, a miracle has been performed upon a nun of 
Pontoise, who, without leaving her convent, has been cured 
of an extraordinary headache by an act of devotion to the 
holy Thorn. I will tell you more about it another time. But 
I must quote to you, in respect to this, an excellent saying 
of St. Augustine, very consoling to certain persons, that 
those alone really see miracles whom the miracles benefit; 
for they are not seen at all if they do not benefit. 

I am under obligations that I cannot sufficiently express 
for the present which you have made me; I did not know 
what it could be, for I unfolded it before reading your letter, 
and I afterwards repented for not having rendered to it at 
first the respect that was due to it. It is a truth that the 
Holy Spirit reposes invisibly in the relics of those who 
have died in the grace of God, until they shall appear visibly 
in the resurrection, and this it is that renders the relics 
of the saints so worthy of veneration. For God never 
abandons his own, even in the sepulchre in which their 
bodies, though dead to the eyes of men, are more than ever 
living in the sight of God, since sin is no more in them; 
whilst it constantly resides in them during life, at least in 
its root, for the fruits of sin are not always in them; and 
this fatal root, which is inseparable from them in life, causes 
it to be forbidden us during life to honor them, since they 
are rather worthy of detestation. It is for this that death 
becomes necessary to mortify entirely this fatal root, and 
this it is that renders it desirable. But it is of no use to 
tell you what you know so well ; it would be better to tell it 
to the other persons of whom you speak, but they would 
not listen to it. 



166 PASCAL 



12 



Letter from Pascal to Queen Christina, on Sending 
HER the Arithmetical Machine, 1650 

Madame, 

If I had as much health as zeal, I should go myself to 
present to Your Majesty a work of several years which I 
dare offer you from so far ; and I should not suffer any other 
hands than mine to have the honor of bearing it to the feet 
of the greatest princess in the world. This work, Madame, 
is a machine for making arithmetical calculations without 
pen or counters. Your Majesty is not ignorant of the cost 
of time and pains of new productions, above all when the 
inventors wish to bring them themselves to their highest 
perfection ; this is why it would be useless to say how much 
I have laboured upon this one, and I cannot better express 
myself than by saying that I have devoted myself to it 
with as much ardor as though I had foreseen that it would 
one day appear before so august a person. But, Madame, 
if this honor has not been the veritable motive of my work, 
it will be at least its recompense ; and I shall esteem myself 
too happy if, after so many vigils, it can give Your Majesty 
a few moments' satisfaction. I shall not importune Your 
Majesty with the details of the parts which compose this 
machine; if you have any curiosity in respect to it, you 
can satisfy yourself in a discourse which I have addressed to 
M de Bourdelot; in which I have sketched in a few words 
thi whole history of this work, the object of its invention, 
the occasion that led to its investigation, the utility of its 
applications, the difficulty of its execution, the degree of its 
progress, the success of its accomplishment, and the rules 
for its use. I shall therefore only speak here of the motive 
that led me to offer it to Your Majesty, which I consider as 
the consummation and happiest fortune of its destiny. I 
know, Madame, that I may be suspected of having sought 
honor in presenting it to Your Majesty, since it can pass only 
for something extraordinary when it is seen that it is 
addressed to you : and that whilst it should only be offered to 
you through the consideration of its excellence, it will be 



LETTERS 38> 

judged that it is excellent for the sole reason that it is 
offered to you. It is not this hope, however, that has in- 
spired me with such a design. It is too great, Madame, to 
have any other object than Your Majesty yourself. What 
has really determined me to this is the union that I find 
in your sacred person of two things that equally overwhelm 
me with admiration and respect — which are, sovereign 
authority and solid science; for I have an especial venera- 
tion for those who are elevated to the supreme degree either 
of power or of knowledge. The latter may, if I am not 
mistaken, as well as the former, pass for sovereigns. The 
same gradations are found in genius as in condition; and 
the power of kings over their subjects is, it seems to me, 
only an image of the power of minds over inferior minds, 
over whom they exercise the right of persuasion, which is 
with them what the right of command is in political govern- 
ment. This second empire even appears to me of an order 
so much the more elevated, as minds are of an order more 
elevated than bodies; and so much the more just, as it can 
be shared and preserved only by merit, whilst the other can 
be shared and preserved by birth and fortune. It must be 
acknowledged then that each of these empires is great in it- 
self; but, Madame, let Your Majesty, who is not wounded 
by it, permit me to say, the one without the other appears 
to me defective. However powerful a monarch may be, 
something is wanting to his glory if he has not pre-eminence 
of mind; and however enlightened a subject may be, his 
condition is always lowered by dependence. Men who 
naturally desire what is most perfect, have hitherto con- 
tinually aspired to meet this sovereign par excellence. All 
kings and scholars have hitherto been but faint outlines of it, 
only half performing their endeavor; this masterpiece has 
been reserved for our own times. And that this great marvel 
might appear accompanied with all possible subjects of 
wonder, the position that men could not attain is filled by a 
youthful queen, in whom are found combined the advantage 
of experience with the tenderness of youth; the leisure of 
study with the occupation of royal birth, and the eminence 
of science with the feebleness of sex. It is Your Majesty, 
Madame, that furnishes to the world this unique example 



368 PASCAL 

that was wanting to it. You it is in whom power is dis- 
pensed by the light of science, and science exalted by the 
lustre of authority. It is from this marvellous union that, 
as Your Majesty sees nothing beneath your power, you also 
see nothing above your mind, and that you will be the ad- 
miration of every age. Reign then, incomparable princess, 
in a manner wholly new; let your genius subdue every 
thing that is not submissive to your arms; reign by right of 
birth during a long course of years over so many triumphant 
provinces; but reign continually by the force of your merit 
over the whole extent of the earth. As for me, not having 
been born under the former of your empires, I wish all the 
world to know that I glory in living under the latter; and 
it is to bear witness to this that I dare to raise my eyes to 
my queen, in giving her this first proof of my dependence. 

This, Madame, is what leads me to make to Your Majesty 
this present, although unworthy of you. My weakness has 
not checked my ambition. I have figured to myself that 
although the name alone of Your Majesty seems to put away 
from you every thing that is disproportioned to your great- 
ness, you will not however reject every thing that is inferior 
to yourself; as your greatness would thus be without homage 
and your glory without praise. You will be contented to re- 
ceive a great mental eiifort, without exacting that it should be 
the effort of a mind as great as your own. It is by this con- 
descension that you will deign to enter into communication 
with the rest of mankind; and all these joint considerations 
make me protest, with all the submission of which one of the 
greatest admirers of your heroic qualities is capable, that I 
desire nothing with so much ardor as to be able to be 
adopted, Madame, by Your Majesty, as your most humble, 
most obedient, and most faithful servant. 

Blaise Pascal. 



MINOR WORKS OF PASCAL 



Epitaph of M. Pascal, Pere 

HERE lies, etc. 
Illustrious for his great knowledge which was 
recognized by the scholars of all Europe; more il- 
lustrious still for the great probity which he exercised in the 
offices and employments with which he was honored; but 
much more illustrious for his exemplary piety. He tasted 
good and bad fortune, that he might be known in every thing 
for what he was. He was seen temperate in prosperity and 
patient in adversity. He sought the aid of God in misfortune, 
and rendered him thanks in happiness. His heart was de- 
voted to his God, his king, his family, and his friends. He had 
respect for the great and love for the small ; it pleased God to 
crown all the graces of nature that he had bestowed on him 
with a divine grace which made his great lo-'/e for God the 
foundation, the stay, and the consummation of all his other 
virtues. 

Thou, who seest in this epitome the only thing that re- 
mains to us of so beautiful a life, admire the fragility of all 
present things, weep the loss that we have suffered; render 
thanks to God for having left for a time to earth the en- 
joyment of such a treasure ; and pray his goodness to crown 
with his eternal glory him whom he crowned here below 
with more graces and virtues than the limits of an epitaph 
permit us to relate. 

His grief-stricken children have placed this epitaph on 
this spot, which they have CQmposed from the fulness of 
their hearts, in order to render homage to the truth and not 
to appear ingrates in the sight of God. 



370 PASCAL 



PRAYER 



To Ask of God the Proper Use of Sickness 

I. Lord, whose spirit is so good and so gentle in all things, 
and who art so merciful that not only the prosperity but 
the very disgrace that happens to thy elect is the effect of 
thy mercy, grant me the favor not to act towards me as to- 
wards a heathen in the condition to which thy justice has re- 
duced me : that like a true Christian I may recognize thee for 
my Father and my God, in whatever condition I may find 
myself, since the change of my condition brings none to 
thine; as thou art always the same, however subject I may 
be to change, and as thou art none the less God when thou 
afflictest and punishest, than when thou comfortest and 
showest indulgence. 

IL Thou gavest me health to serve thee, and I made a pro- 
fane use of it. Thou sendest me sickness now to correct me ; 
suffer not that I use it to irritate thee by my impatience. I 
made a bad use of my health, and thou hast justly punished 
me for it. Suffer not that I make a bad use of my punish- 
ment. And since the corruption of my nature is such that it 
renders thy favors pernicious to me, grant, O my God ! that 
thy all-powerful grace may render thy chastisements salutary. 
If my heart was full of affection for the world while it re- 
tained its vigor, destroy this vigor for my salvation; and 
render me incapable of enjoying the world, either through 
weakness of body or through zeal of charity, that I may enjoy 
but thee alone. 

IIL O God, before whom I must render an exact account 
of all my actions at the end of my life and at the end of 
the world ! O God, who lettest the world and all the things of 
the world subsist but to train thy elect or to punish sinners ? 
O ,God, who allowest sinners hardened in the pleasurable and 
criminal use of the world! O God, who makest our bodies. 
to die, and who at the hour of death separatest our soul from 
all that it loved in the world ? O God, who wilt snatch me, at 
this last moment of my life, from all the things to which I am 
attached and on which I have set my heart! O God, who 
wilt consume at the last day the heavens and the earth with 



MINOR WORKS 371 

all the creatures they contain, to show to all mankind that 
nothing subsists save thee, and that thus nothing is worthy of 
love save thee, since nothing is durable save thee ! O God, 
who wilt destroy all these vain idols and all these fatal objects 
of our passions ! I praise thee, my God, and I will bless thee 
all the days of my life, that it has pleased thee to anticipate in 
my favor this terrible day, by destroying all things in respect 
to me through the weakness to which thou hast reduced me. 
I praise thee, my God, and I will bless thee all the days of my 
life, that it has pleased thee to reduce me to the incapacity of 
enjoying the sweets of health and the pleasures of the world, 
and that thou hast destroyed in some sort, for my advantage, 
the deceitful idols that thou wilt destroy effectively, for the 
confusion of the wicked, in the day of thy wrath. Grant, 
Lord, that I may judge myself, after the destruction that thou 
hast made with respect to me, that thou mayest not judge me 
thyself, after the entire destruction that thou wilt make of my 
life and of the world. For, Lord, as at the instant of my 
death I shall find myself separated from the world, stripped of 
all things, alone in thy presence, to answer to thy justice for 
all the emotions of my heart, grant that I may consider myself 
in this sickness as in a species of death, separated from the 
world, stripped of all the objects of my attachment, alone in 
thy presence, to implore of thy mercy the conversion of my 
heart ; and that thus I may have extreme consolation in know- 
ing that thou sendest me now a partial death in order to 
exercise thy mercy, before thou sendest me death effectively 
in order to exercise thy judgment. Grant then, O my God, 
that as thou hast anticipated my death, I may anticipate the 
rigor of thy sentence, and that I may examine myself before 
thy judgment, so that T may find mercy in thy presence. 

TV. Grant, O my God! that T may adore in silence the 
order of thy adorable providence in the direction of my life; 
that this scourge may console me; and that, having lived 
during peace in the bitterness of my sins, I may taste the 
heavenly sweets of thy grace during the salutary evils with 
which thou afilictest me. But I perceive, my God, that my 
heart is so obdurate and full of the thoughts, the cares, the 
anxieties, and the attachments of the world, that sickness no 
more than health, nor discourses, nor books, nor thy sacred 



372 . PASCAL 

Scriptures, nor thy Gospel, nor thy most holy mysteries, nor 
alms, nor fasts, nor mortifications, nor miracles, nor the use 
of sacraments, nor the sacrifice of thy body, nor all my efforts, 
nor those of all the world together, can do any thing at all 
for the commencement of my conversion, if thou dost not 
accompany all these things with an extraordinary assistance 
of thy grace. It is for this that I address myself to thee, all- 
powerful God, to ask of thee a gift which all created things 
together cannot accord to me. I should not have the boldness 
to address to thee my cries, if any other had power to grant 
them. But, my God, as the conversion of my heart, which I 
ask of thee, is a work which surpasses all the efforts of 
nature, I can only address myself to the all-powerful Author 
and Master of nature and of my heart. To whom shall I cry, 
O Lord, to whom shall I have recourse, if not to thee? 
Nothing that is less than God can fulfil my expectation. It 
is God himself that I ask and seek; and it is to thee alone, 
my God, that I address myself to obtain thee. Open my heart, 
O Lord; enter into the rebellious place which has been 
occupied by vices. They hold it subject. Enter into it as 
into the strong man's house; but first bind the strong and 
powerful enemy that has possession of it, and then take the 
treasures which are there. Lord, take my affections, which 
the world had stolen; take this treasure thyself, or rather 
retake it, since it belongs to thee as a tribute that I owe thee, 
since thy image is imprinted in it. Thou formedst it, O Lord, 
at the moment of my baptism, which was my second birth; 
but it is wholly effaced. The image of the world is so deeply 
engraven there that thine is no longer to be recognized. 
Thou alone couldst create my soul, thou alone canst create 
it anew ; thou alone couldst form thy image, thou alone canst 
reform and reimprint thy effaced portrait, that is, my 
Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is thy image, and the expression 
of thy substance. 

V. O my God ! how happy is a heart that can love so 
charming an object, that does not dishonor it, and the attach- 
ment of which is so salutary to it ! I feel that I cannot love 
the world without displeasing thee, and destroying and dis- 
honoring myself; yet the world is still the object of my 
delight. O my God! how happy is the soul of which thou 



MINOR WORKS S7S 

art the delight, since it can abandon itself to loving thee, not 
only without scruple, but also with merit! How firm and 
durable is its happiness, sinc^ its expectation will never be 
frustrated, because thou wilt never be destroyed, and neither 
life nor death will ever separate it from the object of its 
desires; and since the same moment that will plunge the 
wicked with their idols into a common ruin, will unite the just 
with thee in a common glory; and since, as the former will 
perish with the perishable objects to which they are attached, 
the latter will subsist eternally in the eternal and self-sub- 
sistent object to which they are closely bound ! Oh ! how 
happy are those who with an entire liberty, and irresistible 
inclination of their will, love perfectly and freely that which 
they are obliged to love necessarily ! 

VI. Perfect, O my God, the good impulses that thou givest 
me. Be their end as thou art their principle. Crown thy 
own gifts, for I recognize that they are from thee. Yes, my 
God, and far from pretending that my prayers may have some 
merit that forces thee to accord them of necessity, I humbly 
acknowledge that, having given to created things my heart, 
which thou hadst formed only for thyself, and not for the 
world, nor for myself, I can expect no grace except from thy 
mercy, since I have nothing in me that can oblige thee to it, 
and since all the natural impulses of my heart, whether tend- 
ing towards created things, or towards myself, can only irri- 
tate thee. I, therefore, render thee thanks, my God, for the 
good impulses which thou givest me, and for the very one 
that thou hast given me to render thanks for them. 

VII. Move my heart to repent of my faults, since, without 
this internal sorrow, the external ills with which thou 
affectest my body will be to me a new occasion of sin. Make 
me truly to know that the ills of the body are nothing else 
than the punishment and the symbol combined of the ills 
of the soul. But, Lord, grant also that they may be their 
remedy, by making me consider, in the pains which I feel, 
those that I did not feel in my soul, although wholly diseased, 
and covered with sores. For, Lord, the greatest of its dis- 
eases is this insensibility and extreme weakness, which had 
taken away from it all feeling of its own sufferings. Make 
me to feel them acutely, and grant that the portion of life 



374 PASCAL 

that remains to me may be a continual penitence to wash 
away the offences that I have committed. 

VIII. Lord, although my past life may have been exempt 
from great crimes, of which thou hast removed from me 
the occasions, it has nevertheless been most odious to thee 
by its continual negligence, by the bad use of thy most august 
sacraments, by the contempt of thy word and of thy in- 
spirations, by the indolence and total uselessness of my 
actions and my thoughts, by the complete loss of the time 
which thou hadst given me only to adore thee, to seek in all 
my occupations the means of pleasing thee, and to repent of 
faults that are committed every day, and are even common 
to the most just; so that their life should be a continual 
penitence, without which they are in danger of falling from 
their justice. Thus, my God, I have always been opposed 
to thee. 

IX. Yes, Lord, hitherto I have always been deaf to thy in- 
spirations, I have despised thy oracles; I have judged the 
contrary of that which thou hast judged; I have contra- 
dicted the holy maxims which thou hast brought to the 
world from the bosom of thy eternal Father, and conform- 
ably to which thou wilt judge the world. Thou sayest: 
Blessed are those that mourn, and woe to those that are 
comforted ! And I have said : Woe to those that mourn and 
blessed are those that are comforted! I have said: Blessed 
art those that enjoy an affluent fortune, a glorious reputation, 
and robust health ! And why have I reputed them blessed, 
if not because all these advantages furnished them ample 
facility for enjoying created things, that is for offending 
thee ! Yes, Lord, I confess that I have esteemed health a 
blessing, not because it is an easy means for serving thee 
with utility, for accomplishing more cares and vigils in thy 
service, and for the assistance of my neighbor; but because 
by its aid I could abandon myself with less restraint to the 
abundance of the delights of life, and better relish fatal 
pleasures. Grant me the favor. Lord, to reform my cor- 
rupt reason and to conform my sentiments to thine. Let me 
esteem myself happy in affliction, and, in the impotence oi 
acting externally, purify my sentiments so that they may no 
longer be repugnant to thine ; and let me thus find thee with* 



MINOR WORKS 375 

in myself, since I cannot seek thee without because of my 
weakness. For, Lord, thy kingdom is within thy faithful; 
and I shall find it within myself, if I find there thy spirit 
and thy sentiments. 

X. But, Lord, what shall I do to force thee t-o diffuse thy 
ipirit over this miserable earth ? All that I am is odious to 
thee, and I find nothing in myself that can be pleasing to 
thee. I see nothing therein. Lord, but my sufferings, which 
bear some resemblance to thine. Consider then the ills that 
I suffer and those that menace me. Look with an eye of 
mercy upon the wounds that thy hand has made, O my Sa- 
viour, who lovedst thy sufferings in death ! O God, who wert 
made man only to suffer more than any other man for the 
salvation of mankind! O God, who wert not incarnated 
until after the sin of mankind, and who only tookest upon 
thyself a body in order to suffer therein all the ills which our 
sins had merited! O God, who lovedst so much these suffer- 
ing bodies that thou hast chosen for thyself a body more op- 
pressed with suffering than any that has ever appeared on 
earth ! Look with favor upon my body, not for itself, nor for 
all that it contains, for everything therein deserving of thy 
anger, but for the ills that it endures, which alone can be 
worthy of thy love. Love my sufferings. Lord, and let my 
ills invite thee to visit me. But to finish the preparation for 
thy abode, grant, O my Saviour, that if my body has this in 
common with thine — that it suffers for my offences, my 
soul may also have this in common with thine — ^that it may 
be plunged in sorrow for the same offences; and that thus 
I may suffer with thee, and like thee, both in my body and 
in my soul, for the sins that I have committed. 

XL Grant me the favor, Lord, to join thy consolations to 
my sufferings, that I may suffer like a Christian. I ask not to 
be exempt from sorrow, for this is the recompense of the 
saints ; but I ask that I may not be abandoned to the sorrows 
of nature without the consolations of thy spirit; for this is 
the curse of the Jews and the heathen. I ask not to have 
a fulness of consolation without any suffering; for this is the 
life of glory. Neither do I ask to be in the fulness of evils 
without consolation; for this is the state of Judaism. But 
I ask. Lord, to feel at the same time both the sorrows of 



376 PASCAL 

nature for my sins, and the consolations of thy spirit through 
thy grace ; for this is the true condition of Christianity. Let 
me not feel sorrow without consolation; but let me feel sor- 
row and consolation together, that I may come at last to 
feel thy consolation without any sorrow. For, Lord, thou 
lettest the world languish in natural suffering without con- 
solation, before the coming of thy only Son: now thou con- 
solest and assuagest the sufferings of thy faithful through 
the grace of thy only Son: and thou crownest thy saints with 
a pure beatitude in the glory of thy only Son. Such are the 
admirable degrees through which thou conductest thy work. 
Thou hast drawn me from the first: make me pass through 
the second, to arrive at the third. Lord, this is the favor 
that I ask of thee. 

XIL Suffer me not to be so far removed from thee, that I 
can consider thy soul sorrowful unto death, and thy body a 
prey to death for my own sins, without rejoicing to suffer 
both in my body and in my soul. For what is there more 
shameful, and yet more common in Christians and in my- 
self, than that, whilst thou sweatest blood for the expiation 
of our offences, we live in delights; and that those Christians 
who profess to belong to thee, that those who by baptism 
have renounced the world to follow thee, that those who have 
sworn solemnly in the presence of the Church to live and 
die for thee, that those who profess to believe that the world 
has persecuted and crucified thee, that those- who believe 
that thou wert exposed to the wrath of God and the cruelty 
of men to ransom them from their crimes ; that those, I say, 
who believe all these truths, who consider thy body as the 
victim that was yielded up for their salvation, who consider 
the pleasures and the sins of the world as the only cause of 
thy sufferings, and the world itself as thy executioner, seek 
to flatter their bodies by these very pleasures, in this very 
world; and that those who cannot, without shuddering with 
horror, see a man caress and cherish the murderer of his 
father, who would devote himself to give him life, can live as 
I have done, with full joy, in the world that I know to have 
been veritably the murderer of him whom I acknowledge for 
my God and my Father, who has delivered himself up for my 
own salvation, and who has borne in his person the penalty 



MINOR WORKS 377 

of my iniquities? It is just, Lord, that thou shouldst have 
interrupted a joy so criminal as that in which I was reposing 
in the shadow of death. 

XIII. Remov.*- from me then, Lord, the sadness that the 
lovfe of self might give me for my own sufferings and for the 
things of the world that do not succeed to the satisfaction of 
the inclinations of my heart, and that do not regard thy glory ; 
but create in me a sadness in conformity with thine. Let my 
sufferings serve to appease thy wrath. Make of them an 
occasion for my salvation and my conversion. Let me hence- 
forth desire health and life only to employ them and end them 
for thee, with thee, and in thee. I ask of thee neither health, 
nor sickness, nor life, nor death; but that thou wilt dispose of 
my health and my sickness, my life and my death, for thy 
glory, for my salvation, and for the utility of the Church and 
of thy saints, of whom I hope by thy grace to form a part. 
Thou alone knowest what is most expedient for me : thou art 
the sovereign master^ do what thou wilt. Give to me, take 
from me ; but conform my will to thine ; and grant that in 
humble and perfect submission and in holy confidence, I may 
be disposed to receive the orders of thy eternal providence, 
and that I may adore alike all that comes to me from thee, 

XIV. Grant, my God, that in a constantly equal uniformity 
of spirit I may receive all kinds of events, since we know 
not what we should ask, and since I cannot desire one more 
than another without presumption, and without rendering 
myself the judge of and responsible for the results that thy 
wisdom has rightly been pleased to hide from me. Lord, I 
know only that I know but one thing, that it is good to follow 
thee and that it is evil to offend thee. After this, I know not 
which is the better or worse of any thing; I know not which 
is more profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, 
nor of all the things of the world. This is a discernment that 
exceeds the power of men or of angels, and that is hidden in 
the secrets of thy providence which I adore, and which I wish 
not to fathom. 

XV. Grant then, Lord, that such as I am I may conform 
myself to thy will ; and that being sick as I am, I may glorify 
thee in my sufferings. Without them I could not arrive at 
glory ; and thou, too, my Saviour, hast only wished to attain 



378 PASCAL 

It through them. It was by the tokens of thy sufferings that 
thou wert recognized by thy disciples ; and it is by sufferings 
also that thou wilt recognize thy disciples. Acknowledge me 
then for thy disciple in the evils which I endure both in my 
body and my mind, for the offences that I have committed. 
And since nothing is pleasing to God if it be not offered 
through thee, unite my will to thine, and my sorrows to 
those which thou hast suffered. Grant that mine may become 
thine. Unite me to thee; fill me with thyself and with thy 
Holy Spirit. Enter into my heart and soul, to bear in them 
my sufferings, and to continue to endure in me what remains 
to thee to suffer of thy passion, that thou mayest complete in 
thy members even the perfect consummation of thy body, so 
that being full of thee, it may no longer be that I live and 
suffer, but that it may be thou that livest and sufferest in me, 
O my Saviour ! And that thus having some small part in thy 
sufferings, thou wilt fill me entirely with the glory that they 
have acquired for thee, in which thou wilt live with the 
Father and the Holy Spirit through ages upon ages. So 
be it. 



COMPARISON BETWEEN CHRISTIANS 
Of Early Times and Those of To-day 

In early times. Christians were perfectly instructed in all 
the points necessary to salvation; whilst we see to-day so 
gross an ignorance of them, that it makes all those mourn 
who have sentiments of tenderness for the Church. 

Men only entered then into the Church after great labors 
and long desires ; they find their way into it now without any 
trouble, without care, and without labor. 

They were only admitted to it after a strict examination. 
They are received into it now before they are in a condition 
to be examined. 

They were not received then until after having abjured 
their past life, until after having renounced the world, the 
flesh, and the devil. They enter it now before they are in a 
condition to do any of these things. 



MINOR WORKS 379 

In short, it was necessary formerly to forsake the world in 
order to be received into the Church; whilst men enter now 
into the Church at the same time as into the world. By this 
process, an essential distinction was then known between the 
world and the Church. They were considered as two oppo- 
sites, as two irreconcilable enemies, of which the one perse- 
cuted the other without cessation, and of which the weaker in 
appearance should one day triumph over the stronger ; so that 
of these two antagonistic parties men quitted the one to enter 
the other; they abandoned the maxims of the one to embrace 
the maxims of the other; they put off the sentiments of the 
one to put on the sentiments of the other; in fine, they quitted, 
they renounced, they abjured this world in which they had re- 
ceived their first birth, to devote themselves entirely to the 
Church in which they received as it were their second birth 
and thus they conceived a terrible difference between the two ; 
whilst they now find themselves almost at the same time in 
both; and the same moment that brings us forth into thr 
world makes us acknowledged by the Church, so that the 
reason supervening, no longer makes a difference between 
these two opposite worlds. It is developed in both together. 
Men frequent the Sacraments, and enjoy the pleasures of the 
world ; and thus whilst formerly they saw an essential differ- 
ence between the two, they see them now confounded and 
blended together, so that they can no longer discriminate 
between them. 

Hence it is that formerly none but well-instructed persons 
were to be seen among the Christians, whilst they are now 
in an ignorance that inspires one with horror; hence it is 
that those who had formerly been regenerated by baptism, 
and had forsaken the vices of the world to enter into the 
piety of the Church, fell back so rarely from the Church into 
the world; whilst nothing more common is to be seen at 
this time than the vices of the world in the hearts of Chris- 
tians. The Church of the Saints is found defiled by the min- 
gling of the wicked; and her children, whom she has con- 
ceived and nourished from childhood in her bosom, are the 
very ones who carry into her heart, that is to the participation 
in her most august mysteries, the most cruel of her enemies, 
the spirit of the world, the spirit of ambition, the spirit of 



380 PASCAL 

vengeance, the spirit of impurity, the spirit of concupiscence 
and the love that she has for her children obliges her to admit 
into her very bowels the most cruel of her persecutors. 

But it is not to the Church that should be imputed the 
misfortunes which have followed a change in such salutary 
discipline, for she has not changed in spirit, however she 
may have changed in conduct. Having therefore seen that 
the deferring of baptism left a great number of children in 
the curse of Adam, she wished to deliver them from this 
mass of perdition by hastening the aid which she could give 
them; and this good mother sees only with extreme regret 
that what she devised for the salvation of these children has 
become the occasion for the destruction of adults. Her true 
spirit is that those whom she withdraws at so tender an age 
from the contagion of the world, shall adopt sentiments 
wholly opposed to those of the world. She anticipates the use 
of reason to anticipate the vices into which corrupt reason 
will allure them; and before their mind has power to act, she 
fills them with her spirit, that they may live in ignorance of 
the world and in a condition so much the more remote from 
vice as they will never have known it. This appears from the 
ceremonies of baptism; for she does not accord baptism to 
children until after they have declared, by the mouth of 
sponsors, that they desire it, that they believe, that they re- 
nounce the world and Satan. And as she wishes that they 
should preserve these intentions throughout the whole course 
of their lives, she commands them expressly to keep them 
inviolate, and orders the sponsors, by an indispensable com- 
mandment, to instruct the children in all these things ; for she 
does not wish that those whom she has nourished in her 
bosom should to-day be less instructed and less zealous than 
the adults whom she admitted in former times to the number 
of her own; she does not desire a less perfection in those 

whom she nourishes than in those whom she receives 

Yet men use it in a manner so contrary to the intention of 
the Church, that one cannot think of it without horror. They 
scarcely reflect any longer upon so great a benefit, because 
they have never wished it, because they have never asked it, 

because they do not even remember having received it 

But as it is evident that the Church demands no less zeal 



MINOR WORKS 381 

in those who have been brought up servants of the faith than 
in those who aspire to become such, it is necessary to place 
before their eyes the example of the catechumens, to consider 
their ardor, their devotion, their horror of the world, their 
generous renunciation of the world; and if they were not 
deemed worthy of receiving baptism without this disposition, 

those who do not find it in themselves 

They must therefore submit to receive the instruction that 
they would have had if they had begun to enter into the com- 
munion of the Church; they must moreover submit to a con- 
tinual penitence, and have less aversion for the austerity or 
their mortification than pleasure in the use of delights poi- 
soned by sin 

To dispose them to be instructed, they must be made to 
understand the difference of the customs that have been 
practised in the Church in conformity with the diversity of 

the times 

As in the infant Church they taught the catechumens, that is 
those who aspired to baptism, before conferring it upon them ; 
and only admitted them to it after full instruction in the 
mysteries of religion, after a penitence for their past lives, 
after profound knowledge of the greatness and excellence of 
the profession of the faith and of the Christian maxims into 
which they desired to enter forever, after eminent tokens of a 
genuine conversion of the heart, and after an extreme desire 
of baptism. These things being known to all the Church, the 
sacrament of incorporation was conferred upon them by 
which they became members of the Church; whilst in these 
times, baptism having been accorded to children before the 
use of reason, through very important considerations, it hap- 
pens that the negligence of parents suffers Christians to grow 
old without any knowledge of the greatness of our religion. 

When instruction preceded baptism, all were instructed; 
but now that baptism precedes instruction, the instruction 
that was necessary has become voluntary, and then neglected 
and almost abolished. The true reason of this conduct is 
that men are persuaded of the necessity of baptism, and they 
are not persuaded of the necessity of instruction. So that 
when instruction preceded baptism, the necessity of the one 
caused men to have recourse to the other necessarily ; whilst 



382 PASCAL 

baptism at the present time preceding instruction, as men 
have been made Christians without having been instructed, 
they believe that they can remain Christians without seeking 
instruction .... And whilst the early Christians testified 
so much gratitude towards the Church for the favor which 
she accorded only to their long prayers, they testify to-day 
so much ingratitude for this same favor, which she accords 
to them even before they are in a condition to ask it. And 
if she detested so strongly the lapses of the former, although 
so rare, how much must she hold in abomination the con- 
tinual lapses and relapses of the latter, although they are 
much more indebted to her, since she has drawn them much 
sooner and much more unsparingly from the damnation to 
which they were bound by their first birth. She cannot, with- 
out mourning, see the greatest of her favors abused, and what 
she has done to secure their salvation becomes the almost 
certain occasion of their destruction 



DISCOURSES 
On the Condition of the Great 



In order to enter into a real knowledge of your condition, 
consider it in this image: 

A man was cast by a tempest upon an unknown island, the 
inhabitants of which were in trouble to find their king, who 
was lost; and having a strong resemblance both in form and 
face to this king, he was taken for him, and acknowledged in 
this capacity by all the people. At first he knew not what 
course to take; but finally he resolved to give himself up 
to his good fortune. He received all the homage that they 
chose to render him, and suffered himself to be treated as 
a king. 

But as he could not forget his real condition, he was con- 
scious, at the same time that he was receiving this homage, 
that he was not the king whom this people had sought, and 
that this kingdom did not belong to him. Thus he had a 



MINOR WORKS 383 

double thought: the one by which he acted as king, the other 
by which he recognized his true state, and that it was accident 
alone that had placed him in his present condition. He con- 
cealed the latter thought, and revealed the other. It was by 
the former that he treated with the people, and by the latter 
that he treated with himself. 

Do not imagine that it is less an accident by which you 
find yourself master of the wealth which you possess, than 
that by which this man found himself king. You have no 
right to it of yourself and by your own nature any more than 
he : and not only do you find yourself the son of a duke, but 
also do you find yourself in the world at all, only through an 
infinity of chances. Your birth depends on a marriage, or 
rather on the marriages of all those from whom you descend. 
But upon what do these marriages depend ? A visit made by 
chance, an idle word, a thousand unforeseen occasions. 

You hold, you say, your wealth from your ancestors; but 
was it not by a thousand accidents that your ancestors ac- 
quired it and that they preserved it? A thousand others, as 
capable as they, have either been unable to acquire it, or have 
lost it after having gained it. Do you imaging too, that it 
may have been by some natural way that this wealth has 
passed from your ancestors to you? This is not true. This 
order is founded only upon the mere will of legislators who 
may have had good reasons, but none of which was drawn 
from a natural right that you have over these things. If it 
had pleased them to order that this wealth, after having 
been possessed by fathers during their life, should return to 
the republic after their death, you would have no reason to 
complain of it. 

Thus the whole title by which you possess your property, 
is not a title of nature but of a human institution. Another 
turn of imagination in those who made the laws would have 
rendered you poor ; and it is only this concurrence of chance 
which caused your birth with the caprice of laws favorable in 
your behalf, that puts you in possession of all this property. 

I will not say that it does not legitimately belong to you, 
and that it Is permissible for another to wrest it from you ; 
for God, who is its master, has permitted communities to 
make laws for its division, and when these laws are once 



384 PASCAL 

established, it is unjust to violate them. This it is that dis- 
tinguishes you somewhat from the man who possessed his 
kingdom only through the error of the people; because God 
did not authorize this possession, and required him to re- 
nounce it, whilst he authorizes yours. But what you have 
wholly in common with him is, that this right which you 
have, is not founded any more than his upon any quality or 
any merit in yourself which renders you worthy of it. Your 
soul and your body are, of themselves, indifferent to the 
state of boatman or that of duke; and there is no natural 
bond that attaches them to one condition rather than to 
another. 

What follows from this? that you should have a double 
thought, like the man of whom we have spoken, and that, if 
you act externally with men in conformity with your rank, 
you should recognize, by a more secret but truer thought, 
that you have nothing naturally superior to them. If the 
public thought elevates you above the generality of men, let 
the other humble you, and hold you in a perfect equality with 
all mankind, for this is your natural condition. 

The populace that admires you knows not, perhaps, this 
secret. It believes that nobility is real greatness, and it 
almost considers the great as being of a different nature from 
others. Do not discover to them this error, unless you 
choose; but do not abuse this elevation with insolence, and, 
above all, do not mistake yourself by believing that your 
being has something in it more exalted than that of others. 

What would you say of that man who was made king by 
the error of the people, if he had so far forgotten his natural 
condition as to imagine that this kingdom was due to him, 
that he deserved it, and that it belonged to him of right? 
You would marvel at his stupidity and folly. But is there 
less in the people of rank who live in so strange a forgetful- 
ness of their natural condition? 

How important is this advice ! For all the excesses, all the 
violence, and all the vanity of great men, come from the 
fact that they know not what they are: it being difficult for 
those who regard themselves at heart as equal with all men, 
and who are fully persuaded that they have nothing within 
themselves that merits these trifling advantages which God 



MINOR WORKS 385 

has given them over others, to treat them with insolence. For 
this it is necessary for one to forget himself, and to believe 
that he has some real excellence above them, in which con- 
sists this illusion that I am endeavoring to discover to you. 



II 

It is well, sir, that you should know what is due to you, 
that you may not pretend to exact from men that which is 
not due to you; for this is an obvious injustice; and never- 
theless it is very common to those of your condition, because 
they are ignorant of the nature of it. 

There is in the world two kinds of greatness: for there is 
greatness of institution, and natural greatness. Greatness of 
institution depends upon the will of men who have with 
reason thought it right to honor certain positions, and to at- 
tach to them certain marks of respect. Dignities and nobility 
are of this class. In one country the nobles are honored, in 
another the plebeians; in this the eldest, in the other the 
youngest. Why is this? because thus it has been pleasing to 
men. The thing was Indifferent before the institution; since 
the institution it becomes just, because it is unjust to dis- 
turb it. 

Natural greatness is that which is independent of the 
caprice of men, because it consists in the real and effective 
qualities of the soul or the body, which render the one or the 
other more estimable j as the sciences, the enlightenment of 
the mind, virtue, health, strength. 

We owe something to both these kinds of greatness; but 
as they are of a different nature, we owe them likewise dif- 
ferent respect. To the greatness of institution we owe the 
respect of institution, that is, certain external ceremonies 
which should be nevertheless accompanied, in conformity 
with reason, with an internal recognition of the justice of this 
order, but which do not make us conceive any real quality in 
those whom we honor after this manner. It is necessary to 
speak to kings on the bended knee, to remain standing in the 
presence-chamber of princes. It is a folly and baseness of 
spirit to refuse to them these duties. 

HC XLVUI (M) 



966 PASCAL 

But as for the natural homage which consists in esteem, we 
owe It only to natural greatness; and we owe, on the con- 
trary, contempt and aversion to qualities contrary to this 
natural greatness. It is not necessary, because you are a 
duke, that I should esteem you; but it is necessary that I 
should salute you. If you are a duke and a gentleman, I 
shall render what I owe to both these qualities. I shall not 
refuse you the ceremonies that are merited by your quality 
of duke, nor the esteem that is merited by that of a gentle- 
\ man. But if you were a duke without being a gentleman, I 
should still do you justice ; for in rendering you the external 
homage which the order of men has attached to your birth, 
I should not fail to have for you the internal contempt that 
would be merited by your baseness of mind. 

Therein consists the justice of these duties. And the in- 
justice consists in attaching natural respect to greatness of 
condition, or in exacting respect of condition for natural 
greatness. M. N. ... is a greater geometrician than I; in 
this quality, he wishes to take precedence of me: I will tell 
him that he understands nothing of the matter. Geometry 
is a natural greatness; it demands a preference of esteem; 
but men have not attached to it any external preference. I 
shall, therefore, ^ke precedence of him, and shall esteem 
him greater than I in the quality of geometrician. In the 
same manner, if, being duke and peer, you would not be 
contented with my standing uncovered before you, but should 
also wish that I should esteem you, I should ask you to show 
me the qualities that merit my esteem. If you did this, you 
would gain it, and I could not refuse it to you with justice; 
but if you did not do it, you would be unjust to demand it of 
me; and assuredly you would not succeed, were you the 
greatest prince in the world. 



Ill 

I WISH, sir, to make known to you your true condition ; for 
this is the thing of all others of which persons of your class 
are the most ignorant. What is it, in your opinion, to be a 
great nobleman? It is to be master of several objects that 



MINOR WORKS 387 

men covet, and thus to be able to satisfy the wants and the 
desires of many. It is these wants and these desires that 
attract them towards you, and that make them submit to you : 
were it not for these, they would not even look at you ; but 
they hope, by these services, and this deference which they 
render you, to obtain from you some part of the good which 
they desire, and of which they see that you have the disposal. 

God is surrounded with people full of love who demand of 
him the benefits of love which are in his power: thus he is 
properly the king of love. You are in the same manner sur- 
rounded with a small circle of persons, over whom you reign 
in your way. These men are full of desire. They demand 
of you the benefits of desire; it is desire that binds them to 
you. You are therefore properly the king of desire. Your 
kingdom is of small extent; but you are equal in this to the 
greatest kings of the earth : they are like you the sovereigns 
of desire. It is desire that constitutes their power; that is 
the possession of things that men covet. 

But while knowing your natural condition, avail yourself of 
the means that it gives you, and do not pretend to rule by a 
different power than by that which makes you king. It is not 
your strength and your natural power that subjects all these 
people to you. Do not pretend then to rule them by force or 
to treat them with harshness. Satisfy their reasonable de- 
sires; alleviate their necessities; let your pleasure consist in 
being beneficent ; advance them as much as you can, and you 
will act like the true king of desire. 

What I tell you does not go very far ; and if you stop there 
you will not save yourself from being lost; but at least you 
will be lost like an honest man. There are some men who 
expose themselves to damnation so foolishly by avarice, by 
brutality, by debauches, by violence, by excesses, by blasphe- 
mies ! The way which I open to you is doubtless the most 
honorable ; but in truth it is always a great folly for a man to 
expose himself to damnation ; and therefore he must not stop 
at this. He must despise desire and its kingdom, and aspire 
to that kingdom of love in which all the subjects breathe 
nothing but love, and desire nothing but the benefits of love. 
Others than I will show you the way to this; it is sufficient 
for me to have turned you from those gross ways into which 



388 PASCAL 

I see many persons of your condition suffer themselves to be 
led, for want of knowing the true state of this condition. 



ON THE CONVERSION OF THE SINNER.' 

The first thing with which God inspires the soul that he 
deigns to touch truly^ is a knowledge and most extraordinary 
insight by which the soul considers things and herself in a 
manner wholly new. 

This new light gives her fear, and brings her a trouble that 
penetrates the repose which she found in the things that made 
her delights. 

She can no longer relish with tranquillity the things that 
charmed her. A continual scruple opposes her in this enjoy- 
ment, and this internal sight causes her to find no longer this 
accustomed sweetness among the things to which she aban- 
doned herself with a full effusion of heart. 

But she finds still more bitterness in the exercises of piety 
than in the vanities of the world. On one side, the vanity of 
the visible objects interests her more than the hope of the in- 
visible, and on the other the solidity of the invisible inter- 
ests her more than the vanity of the visible. And thus the 
presence of the one and the solidity of the other dispute 
her affection, and the vanity of the one and the absence 
of the other excite her aversion; so that a disorder and con- 
fusion spring up in her, that 

She considers perishable things as perishable and even al- 
ready perished; and in the certain prospect of the annihila- 
tion of every thing that she loves, she is terrified by this 
consideration, in seeing that each moment snatches from her 
the enjoyment of her good, and that what is most dear to 
her glides away at every moment, and that finally a certain 
day will come in which she will find herself stripped of all 
the things in which she had placed her hope. So that she 
comprehends perfectly that her heart being attached only 
to vain and fragile things, her soul must be left alone 
and forsaken on quitting this life, since she has not taken 

^ By some scholars this fragment is attributed to Mile. Pascal. 



MINOR WORKS 389 

care to unite herself to a true and self-subsisting good which 
could sustain her both during and after this life. 

Thence it comes that she begins to consider as nothing- 
ness all that must return to nothingness, — the heavens, the 
earth, her spirit, her body, her relatives, her friends, her 
enemies, wealth, poverty, disgrace, prosperity, honor, ig- 
nominy, esteem, contempt, authority, indigence, health, sick- 
ness, life itself. In fine, all that is less durable than her 
soul is incapable of satisfying the desire of this soul, which 
seeks earnestly to establish itself in a felicity as durable as 
herself. 

She begins to be astonished at the blindness in which she 
has lived, and when she considers, on the one hand, the long 
time that she has lived without making these reflections, and 
the great number of people" who live in the same way, 
and, on the other hand, how certain it is that the soul, 
being immortal as she is, cannot find her felicity among 
perishable things which will be taken away from her, at 
all events, by death, she enters into a holy confusion and 
an astonishment that brings to her a most salutary trouble. 

For she considers that, however great may be the num- 
ber of those who grow old in the maxims of the world, 
and whatever may be the authority of this multitude of 
examples of those who place their felicity in this world, 
it is nevertheless certain that, even though the things of 
the world should have some solid pleasure, which is recog- 
nized as false by an infinite number of fearful and con- 
tinual examples, it is inevitable that we shall lose these 
things, or that death at last will deprive us of them; so 
that the soul having amassed treasures of temporal goods, 
of whatever nature they may be, whether gold, or science, 
or reputation, it is an indispensable necessity that she shall 
find herself stripped of all these objects of her felicity; 
and that thus, if they have had wherewith to satisfy her, 
they will not always have wherewith to satisfy her ; and that, 
if it is to procure herself a real happiness, it is not to 
promise herself a very durable happiness, since it must be 
limited to the course of this life. 

So that, by a holy humility which God exalts above pride, 
she begins to exalt herself above the generality of man- 



390 PASCAL 

kind: she condemns their conduct, she detests their maxims, 
she bewails their blindness ; she devotes herself to the search 
for the true good ; she comprehends that it is necessary that 
it should have the two following qualities: the one that it 
shall last as long as herself, and that it cannot be taken 
away from her except by her consent, and the other that 
there shall be nothing more lovely. 

She sees that in the love she has had for the world, 
she found in it this second quality in her blindness; for she 
perceived nothing more lovely. But as she does not see 
the first in it, she knows that it is not the sovereign good. 
She seeks it, therefore, elsewhere, and knowing by a pure 
light that it is not in the things that are within her, or with- 
out her, or before her (in nothing, therefore, within or 
around her), she begins to seek it above her. 

This elevation is so eminent and so transcendent that she 
does not stop at the heavens, — they have not wherewith 
to satisfy her, — nor above the heavens, nor at the angels, 
nor at the most perfect beings. She passes through all 
created things, and cannot stop her heart until she has 
rendered herself up at the throne of God, in which she be- 
gins to find her repose and that good which is such that 
there is nothing more lovely, and which cannot be taken 
away from her except by her own consent. 

For although she does not feel those charms with which 
God recompenses continuance in piety, she comprehends, 
nevertheless, that created things cannot be more lovely than 
their Creator; and her reason, aided by the light of grace, 
makes her understand that there is nothing more lovely than 
God, and that he can only be taken away from those who 
reject him, since to possess him is only to desire him, and to 
refuse him is to lose him. 

Thus she rejoices at having found a good which cannot 
be wrested from her so long as she shall desire it, and which 
has nothing above it. 

And in these new reflections she enters into sight of the 
grandeur of her Creator, and into humiliations and pro- 
found adorations. She becomes, in consequence, reduced 
to nothing and being unable to form a base enough idea 
of herself, or to conceive an exalted enough idea of this 



MINOR WORKS 391 

sovereign good, she makes new efforts to abase herself 
to the lowest abysses of nothingness, in considering God in 
the immensities which she multiplies without ceasing. In 
fine, in this conception, which exhausts her strength, she 
adores him in silence, she considers herself as his vile and 
useless creature, and by her reiterated homage adores and 
blesses him, and wishes to bless and to adore him forever. 
Then she acknowledges the grace which he has granted 
her in manifesting his infinite majesty to so vile a worm; 
and after a firm resolution to be eternally grateful for it, 
she becomes confused for having preferred so many vani- 
ties to this divine master; and in a spirit of compunction 
and penitence she has recourse to his pity to arrest his 
anger, the effect of which appears terrible to her. In the 
sight of these immensities 

She makes ardent prayers to God to obtain of his mercy 
that, as it has pleased him to discover himself to her, it may 
please him to conduct her to him, and to show her the 
means of arriving there. For as it is to God that she aspires, 
she aspires also only to reach him by means that come 
from God himself, because she wishes that he himself should 
be her path, her object, and her final end. After these 
prayers, she begins to act, and seeks among these 

She begins to know God, and to desire to reach him; but 
as she is ignorant of the means of attaining this, if her 
desire is sincere and true, she does the same as a person 
who, desiring to reach some place, having lost his way, 
and knowing his aberration, would have recourse to those 
who knew this way perfectly, and ' 

She resolves to conform to his will during the remainder 
of her life; but as her natural weakness, with the habit that 
she has of the sins in which she has lived, have reduced* 
her to the impotence of attaining this felicity, she implores 
of his mercy the means of reaching him, of attaching her- 
self to him, of adhering to him eternally 

Thus she perceives that she should adore God as a creature, 
render thanks to him as a debtor, satisfy him as a criminalj 
and pray to him as one poor and needy. 



392 PASCAL 

CONVERSATION OF PASCAL 
with m. de saci 

On Epictetus and Montaigne 

" M. Pascal came, too, at this time, to live at Port-Royal 
des Champs. I do not stop to tell who this man was, whom 
not only all France, but all Europe admired; his mind al- 
ways acute, always active, was of an extent, an elevation, 
a firmness, a penetration, and a clearness exceeding any thing 
that can be believed. . . . This admirable man, being finally 
moved by God, submitted this lofty mind to the yoke of 
Jesus Christ, and this great and noble heart embraced peni- 
tence with humility. He came to Paris to throw himself 
into the arms of M. Singlin, resolved to do all that he 
should order him. M. Singlin thought, on seeing this great 
genius, that he should do well to send him to Port-Royal 
des Champs, where M. Arnauld would cope with him in 
the sciences, and where M. de Saci would teach him to 
despise them. He came therefore to live at Port-Royal. 
M. de Saci could not courteously avoid seeing him, especially 
having been urged to it by M. Singlin; but the holy en- 
lightenment which he found in the Scripture and in the 
Fathers made him hope that he would not be dazzled by all 
the brilliancy of M. Pascal, which nevertheless charmed 
and carried away all the world. He found in fact all that 
he said very just. He acknowledged with pleasure the 
strength of his mind and conversation. All that M. Pascal 
said to him that was remarkable he had seen before in 
St. Augustine, and doing justice to every one, he said: 
* M. Pascal is extremely estimable in that, not having read 
the Fathers of the Church, he has of himself, by the pene- 
tration of his mind, foimd the same truths that they had 
found. He finds them surprising, he says, because he has 
not found them in any place ; but for us, we are accustomed 
to see them on every side in our books.' Thus, this wise 
ecclesiastic, finding that the ancients had not less light 
than the modems, held to them, and esteemed M. Pascal 
greatly because he agreed in all things with St. Augustine. 



MINOR WORKS 393 

" The usual way of M. De Saci, in conversing with 
people, was to adapt his conversation to those with whom 
he was talking. If he met, for example, M. Champagne, 
he talked with him of painting. If he met M. Hamon, he 
talked with him of medicine. If he met the surgeon of 
the place, he questioned him on surgery. Those who cul- 
tivated the vine, or trees, or grain, told him all that was 
remarkable about them. Every thing served to lead him 
speedily to God and to lead others there with him. He 
thought it his duty therefore to put M. Pascal in his province, 
and to talk with him of the philosophical readings with 
which he had been most occupied. He led him to this 
subject in the first conversations that they had together. 
M. Pascal told him that his two most familiar books had 
been Epictetus and Montaigne, and highly eulogized these 
two minds. M. de Saci, who had always thought it a 
duty to read but little of these two authors, entreated M. 
Pascal to speak of them to him at length." 

" Epictetus," says he, " is among the philosophers of the 
world who have best understood the duties of man. He 
requires, before all things, that he should regard God as 
his principal object; that he should be persuaded that he 
governs every thing with justice; that he should submit 
to him cheerfully, and that he should follow him voluntarily 
in every thing, as doing nothing except with the utmost 
wisdom: as thus this disposition will check all complaints 
and murmurs, and will prepare his mind to suffer tranquilly 
the most vexatious events. Never say, says he, I have 
lost this; say rather, I have restored it. My son is dead, 
I have restored him. My wife is dead, I have restored 
her. So with property and with every thing else. But 
he who has deprived me of it is a wicked man, you say. 
Why does it trouble you by whom the one who has lent 
it to you demands it of you again? While he permits you 
the use of it, take care of it as property belonging to 
another, as a man who is travelling would do in an inn. 
You ought not, says he, to desire that things should be 
done as you wish, but you ought to wish that they should 
be done as they are done. Remember, says he elsewhere, 
that you are here as an actor, and that you play the part 



394 PASCAL 

in a drama that it pleases the manager to give you. If 
he gives you a short one, play a short one; if he gives 
you a long one, play a long one; if he wishes you to feign 
the beggar, you should do it with all the simplicity pos- 
sible to you; and so with the rest. It is your business to 
play well the part that is given you; but to choose it is the 
business of another. Have every day before your eyes 
death and the evils which seem the most intolerable; and 
you will never think of any thing lower and will desire 
nothing with excess. 

" He shows, too, in a thousand ways what man should 
do. He requires that he should be humble, that he should 
conceal his good resolutions, especially in the beginning, 
and that he should accomplish them in secret: nothing de* 
stroys them more than to reveal them. He never tires of 
repeating that the whole study and desire of man should 
be to perceive the will of God and to pursue it. 

" Such sir, said M. Pascal to M. de Saci, was the en- 
lightenment of this great mind that so well understood 
the duties of man. I dare say that he would have merited 
to be adored if he had also known his impotence as well, 
since it is necessary to be a god to teach both to men. 
Thus as he was clay and ashes, after having so well com- 
prehended what was due, behold how he destroys himself 
in the presumption of what can be done. He says that 
God has given to every man the means of acquitting him- 
self of all his obligations; that these means are always 
in our power; that we must seek felicity through the things 
that are in our power, since God has given them to us 
for this end: we must see what there is in us that is free; 
that wealth, life, esteem, are not in our power, and there- 
fore do not lead to God ; but that the mind cannot be forced 
to believe what it knows to be false, nor the will to love 
what it knows will render it unhappy; that these two 
powers are therefore free, and and that it is through them 
that we can render ourselves perfect; that man can by 
these powers perfectly know God, love him, obey him, 
please him, cure himself of all his vices, acquire all the vir- 
tues, render himself holy, and thus the companion of God. 
These principles of a diabolic pride lead him to other errors, 



MINOR WORKS 395 

as that the soul is a portion of the divine substance; that sor- 
row and death are not evils ; that one may kill himself when 
he is persecuted to such a degree that he has reason to be- 
lieve that God calls him, and others. 

" As for Montaigne, of whom you wish too, sir, that I 
should speak to you, being born in a Christian State, he 
made profession of the Catholic religion, and in this there 
was nothing peculiar. But as he wished to discover what 
morals reason would dictate without the light of faith, he 
based his principles upon this supposition; and thus, con- 
sidering man as destitute of all revelation, he discourses 
in this wise. He puts all things in a universal doubt, so 
general that this doubt bears away itself, that is whether 
he doubts, and even doubting this latter proposition, his 
uncertainty revolves upon itself in a perpetual and restless 
circle, alike opposed to those who affirm that every thing 
is uncertain and to those who affirm that every thing is 
not so, because he will affirm nothing. It is in this doubt 
which doubts itself, and in this ignorance which is ignorant 
of itself, and which he calls his master-form, that lies 
the essence of his opinion, which he was unable to express 
by any positive term. For if he says that he doubts, he 
betrays himself in affirming at least that he doubts; which 
being formally against his intention, he could only explain 
it by interrogation ; so that, not wishing to say : " I do not 
know," he says: "What do I know?" Gf this he makes 
his device, placing it under the scales which, weighing 
contradictories, are found in perfect equilibrium: that is, 
it is pure Pyrrhonism. Upon this principle revolve all his 
discourses and all his essays; and it is the only thing that 
he pretends really to establish, although he does not always 
point out his intention. He destroys in them insensibly all 
that passes for the most certain among men, not indeed to 
establish the contrary with a certainty to which alone he is 
the enemy, but merely to show that, appearances being equal 
on both sides, one knows not where to fix his belief. 

"In this spirit he jests at all affirmations; for example, he 
combats those who have thought to establish in France a 
great remedy against lawsuits by the multitude and the 
pretended justice of the laws: as if one could cut off the 



396 PASCAL 

root of the doubts whence arise these lawsuits, and as if 
there were dikes that could arrest the torrent of uncertainty 
and take conjectures captive ! Thus it is that, when he 
says that he would as soon submit his cause to the first 
passer-by as to judges armed with such a number of ordi- 
nances, he does not pretend that we should change the 
order of the State, — ^he has not so much ambition; nor 
that his advice may be better, — he believes none good. It 
is only to prove the vanity of the most received opinions; 
showing that the exclusion of all laws would rather dimiu' 
ish the number of disputants whilst the multiplicity of laws 
serves only to increase them, since difficulties grow in pro- 
portion as they are weighed; since obscurities are multi' 
plied by commentaries; and since the surest way to un- 
derstand the meaning of a discourse is not to examine it> 
and to take it on the first appearance: as soon as it is 
scrutinized, all its clearness becomes dissipated. In the 
like manner he judges by chance of all the acts of men 
and the points of history, sometimes in one way, sometimes 
in another, freely following his first impression, and, with- 
out constraining his thought by the rules of reason, which 
has only false measures, he delights to show, by his ex- 
ample, the contrarieties of the same mind. In this free 
genius, it is alike equal to him to get the better or not 
in the dispute, having always, by either example, a means 
of showing the weakness of opinions; being sustained with 
so much advantage in this universal doubt, that he is 
strengthened in it alike by his triumph and his defeat. 

" It is from this position, floating and wavering as it is, 
that he combats with an invincible firmness the heretics 
of his times in respect to their affirmation of alone knowing 
the true sense of the Scripture; and it is also from this 
that he thunders forth most vigorously against the horrible 
impiety of those who dare to affirm that God is not. He 
attacks them especially in the apology of Raimond de Se- 
bonde; and finding them voluntarily destitute of all revela- 
tion, and abandoned to their natural intelligence, all faith 
set aside, he demands of them upon what authority they 
undertake to judge of this sovereign Being who is in- 
finite by his own definition, they who know truly none of 



MINOR WORKS 397 

the things of nature! He asks them upon what principles 
they rest; he presses them to show them. He examines 
all that they can produce; and penetrates them so deeply, 
by the talent in which he excels, that he demonstrates the 
vanity of all those that pass for the firmest and the most 
natural. He asks whether the soul knows any thing ; whether 
she knows herself; whether she is substance or accident, 
body or spirit, what is each of these things, and whether 
there is any thing that does not belong to one of these 
orders; whether she knows her own body, what is matter 
and whether she can discern among the innumerable variety 
of bodies from which it is produced; how she can reason 
if she is material; and how she can be united to a par- 
ticular body and feel its passions if she is spiritual: when 
she commenced to be? with the body or before? and whether 
she will end with it or not; whether she is never mistaken; 
whether she knows when she errs, seeing that the essence 
of contempt consists in not knowing it; whether in her 
obscurity she does not believe as firmly that two and three 
make six as she knows afterwards that they make five; 
whether animals reason, think, talk; and who can de- 
termine what is time, what is space or extent, what is 
motion, what is unity, what are all the things that sur- 
round us and are wholly inexplicable to us; what is health, 
sickness, life, death, good, evil, justice, sin, of which we 
constantly speak; whether we have within us the principles 
of truth, and whether those which we believe, and which 
are called axioms or common notions, because they are 
common to all men, are in conformity with the essential 
truth. And since we know but by faith alone that an all-good 
Being has given them to us truly in creating us to know 
the truth, who can know without this light whether, being 
formed by chance, they are not uncertain, or whether, 
being formed by a lying and malicious being, he has not 
given them to us falsely in order to lead us astray? Show- 
ing by this that God and truth are inseparable, and that if the 
one is or is not, if it is certain or uncertain, the other 
is necessarily the same. Who knows then whether the 
common-sense, that we take for the judge of truth, can 
be the judge of that which has created it? Besides, who 



398 PASCAL 

knows what truth is, and how can we be sure of having 
it without understanding it ? Who knows even what is being 
which it is impossible to define, since there is nothing more 
general, and since it would be necessary at first, to ex- 
plain it, to use the word itself: It is being , . . ? And 
since we know not what is soul, body, time, space, motion, 
truth, good, nor even being, nor how to explain the idea 
that we form within ourselves, how can we assure our- 
selves that it is the same in all men, seeing that we have 
no other token than the uniformity of consequences, which 
is not always a sign of that of principles; for they may 
indeed be very different, and lead nevertheless to the same 
conclusions, every one knowing that the true is often in- 
ferred from the false. 

"Lastly, he examines thus profoundly the sciences, both 
geometry, of which he shows the uncertainty in the axioms 
and the terms that she does not define, as centre, motion, 
etc., physics in many more ways, and medicine in an in- 
finity of methods; history, politics, ethics, jurisprudence, 
and the rest. So that we remain convinced that we think 
no better at present that in a dream from which we shall 
wake only at death, and during which we have the prin- 
ciples of truth as little as during natural sleep. It is thus 
that he reproaches reason divested of faith so strongly 
and so cruelly that, making her doubt whether she is rational, 
and whether animals are so or not, or in a greater or less 
degree, he makes her descend from the excellence which 
she has attributed to herself, and places her through grace 
on a level with the brutes, without permitting her to quit 
this order until she shall have been instructed by her 
Creator himself in respect to her rank, of which she is 
ignorant; threatening, if she grumbles, to place her be- 
neath every thing, which is as easy as the opposite, and 
nevertheless giving her power to act only in order to re- 
mark her weakness with sincere humility, instead of ex- 
alting herself by a foolish insolence." 

" M. de Saci, fancying himself living in a new country, 
and listening to a new language, repeated to himself the 
words of St. Augustine: O God of truth! are those who 
know these subtleties of reasoning therefore more pleasing 



MINOR WORKS $99 

to thee? He pitied this philosopher who pricked and tore 
himself on every side with the thorns that he formed, as 
St. Augustine said of himself when he was in this state. 
After some meditation, he said to M. Pascal: 

"I thank you, sir; I am sure that if I had read Mon- 
taigne a long time, I should not know him so well as I do, 
since the conversation that I have just had with you. This 
man should wish that he might never be known, except 
by the recitals that you make of his writings ; and he might 
say with St. Augustine: Ibi me vide, attende. I believe as- 
suredly that this man had talent; but I know not whether 
you do not lend to him a little more than he had, by the 
logical chain that you make of his principles. You can 
judge that having passed my life as I have done, I have 
had little counsel to read this author, the works of whom 
had nothing of that which we ought chiefly to seek in our 
reading, according to the rule of St. Augustine, because 
his works do not appear to proceed from a solid basis of 
humility and piety. We should forgive those philosophers 
of former times who styled themselves academicians, for 
putting every thing in doubt. But what need had Mon- 
taigne to divert the mind by reviving a doctrine which 
passes now in the eyes of Christians for the folly? This 
is the judgment that St. Augustine passes on these per- 
sons. For we can say after him of Montaigne: He sets 
faith aside in every thing that he says; therefore we, who 
have faith, should set aside every thing that he says. I 
do not blame the talent of this author, which was a great 
gift from God; but he might have used it better, and made 
a sacrifice of it to God rather than to the devil. What 
avails a blessing when one uses it so ill? Quid proderat, 
etc., said this holy doctor of him before his conversion. 
You are fortunate, sir, in having raised yourself above these 
people, who are called doctors, who are plunged in drunken- 
ness, but whose hearts are void of truth. God has poured 
out into your heart other sweets and other attractions than 
those which you find in Montaigne. He has recalled you 
from that dangerous pleasure, a jucunditate pestifera, says 
St. Augustine, who renders thanks to God that he has 
forgiven him the sins which he had committed in delight- 



100 PASCAL 

ing too much In vanity. St. Augustine is so much the more 
credible in this that he held formerly the same sentiments; 
and as you say of Montaigne that it is through universal 
doubt that he combats the heretics of his times, so through 
this same doubt of the academicians, St. Augustine forsook 
the heresy of the Manicheans. As soon as he belonged to 
God, he renounced these vanities, which he calls sacrileges. 
He perceived with what wisdom St. Paul warned us not 
to suffer ourselves to be seduced by these discourses. For 
he acknowledges that there is in them a certain harmony 
which fascinates: we sometimes believe things true only 
because they are narrated eloquently. Those are dan- 
gerous viands, says he, that are served up in fine dishes; 
but these viands, instead of nourishing the heart, starve it. 
We then resemble men who sleep, and who fancy that 
they eat while sleeping: these imaginary viands leave them 
as empty as they were before. 

" M. de Saci made several similar remarks to M. Pascal; 
whereupon M. Pascal said to him, that if he complimented 
him on thoroughly possessing Montaigne, and of knowing 
how to construe him well, he could tell him without flattery 
that he understood St. Augustine much better, and that he 
knew how to construe him much better, though little to the 
advantage of poor Montaigne. He expressed himself as be* 
ing extremely edified by the solidity of all that he had just 
represented to him ; nevertheless, being full of his author, he 
could not contain himself, and thus continued: 

" I acknowledge, sir, that I cannot see without joy in this 
author proud reason so irresistibly baffled by its own 
weapons, and that fierce contention of man with man, 
which, from the companionship with God, to which he had 
exalted himself by maxims, hurls him down to the nature 
of brutes; and I should have loved with all my heart the 
minister of so great a vengeance, if, being a disciple of the 
Church by faith, he had followed the rules of ethics, in 
bringing men whom he had so usefully humiliated, not to 
irritate by new crimes him who alone can draw them from the 
crimes which he has convicted them of not being able even 
to know. 

" But he acts on the contrary like a heathen in this wise. 



MINOR WORKS 401 

On this principle, says he, outside of faith everj' thing is in 
uncertainty, and considering how much men seek the true 
and the good without making any progress towards tran- 
quillity, he concludes that one should leave the care of them 
to others; and remain nevertheless in repose, skimming 
lightly over subjects for fear of going beyond one's depth in 
them; and take the true and the good on first appearances, 
without dwelling on them, for they are so far from being 
solid that if one grasps them ever so lightly, they will slip 
through his fingers and leave them empty. For this reason 
he follows the evidence of the senses and common-sense, 
because he would be obliged to do violence to himself to 
contradict them, and because he knows not whether he 
would gain by it, ignorant as to where the truth is. So 
he shuns pain and death, because his instinct impels him 
to it, and because he will not resist for the same reason, 
but without concluding thence that these may be the real 
evils, not confiding too much in these natural emotions of 
fear, seeing that we feel others of pleasure which are ac- 
cused of being wrong, although nature speaks to the con- 
trary. Thus there is nothing extravagant in his conduct ; he 
acts like the rest of mankind, and all that they do in the 
foolish idea that they are pursuing the true good, he does 
from another principle, which is that probabilities being 
equal on either side, example and convenience are the 
counterpoises that decide him. 

" He mounts his horse like a man that is not a philosopher, 
because he suffers it, but without believing that this i^ 
his right, not knowing whether this animal has not, on the 
contrary, the right to make use of him. He also does some 
violence to himself to avoid certain vices; and he even pre- 
serves fidelity to marriage on account of the penalty that 
follows Irregularities ; but if the trouble that he takes exceeds 
that which he avoids, It does not disturb him, the rule of this 
action being convenience and tranquillity. He utterly re- 
jects therefore that stoical virtue which Is depicted with 
a severe mien, fierce glance, bristling locks, and wrinkled 
and moist brow, In a painful and distorted posture, far from 
men. In a gloomy silence, alone upon the summit of a rock: 
a phantom, he says, fit to frighten children, and which does 



402 PASCAL 

nothing else with continual effort than to seek the repose 
which it never attains. His own is simple, familiar, pleasant, 
playful, and as we may say sportive: she follows whatever 
charms her, and toys negligently with good and bad accidents, 
reclining effeminately in the bosom of a tranquil indolence, 
from which she shows to those who seek felicity with so 
much toil that it is only there where she is reposing, and 
that ignorance and incuriosity are soft pillows for a well- 
balanced head, as he himself has said. 

" I cannot conceal from you, sir, that in reading this author 
and comparing him with Epictetus, I have found that they 
are assuredly the two greatest defenders of the two most 
celebrated sects of the world, and the only ones conformable 
to reason, since we can only follow one of these two roads, 
namely : either that there is a God, and then we place in him 
the sovereign good; or that he is uncertain, and that then 
the true good is also uncertain, since he is incapable of it. 
I have taken extreme pleasure in remarking in these different 
reasonings wherein both have reached some conformity with 
the true wisdom which they have essayed to understand. 
For if it is pleasing to observe in nature her desire to paint 
God in all his works, in which we see some traces of him 
because they are his images, how much more just is it to 
consider in the productions of minds the efforts which they 
make to imitate the essential truth, even in shunning it, and 
to remark wherein they attain it and wherein they wander 
from it, as I have endeavored to do in this study. 

" It is true, sir, that you have just shown me, in an 
admirable manner, the little utility that Christians can draw 
from these philosophic studies. I shall not refrain however, 
with your permission, from telling you still further my 
thoughts on the subject, ready, however, to renounce all light 
that does not come from you, in which I shall have the ad- 
vantage either of having encountered truth by good fortune 
or of receiving it from you with certainty. It appears to 
me that the source of the errors of these two sects, is in 
not having known that the state of man at the present time 
differs from that of his creation; so that the one, remark- 
ing some traces of his first greatness and being ignorant of 
his corruption, has treated nature as sound and without need 



MINOR WORKS 403 

of redemption, which leads him to the height of pride ; whilst 
the other, feeling the present wretchedness and being igno- 
rant of the original dignity, treats nature as necessarily in- 
firm and irreparable, which precipitates it into despair of 
arriving at real good, and thence into extreme laxity. Thus 
these two states which it is necessary to know together in 
order to see the whole truth, being known separately, lead 
necessarily to one of these two vices, pride or indolence, in 
which all men are invariably before grace, since if they do 
not remain in their disorders through laxity, they forsake 
them through vanity, so true is that which you have just 
repeated to me from St. Augustine, and which I find to a 
great extent; for in fact homage is rendered to them in 
many ways. 

" It is therefore from this imperfect enlightenment that 
it happens that the one, knowing the duties of man and 
being ignorant of his impotence, is lost in presumption, and 
that the other, knowing the impotence and being ignorant 
of the duty, falls into laxity; whence it seems that since the 
one leads to truth, the other to error, there would be formed 
from their alliance a perfect system of morals. But instead 
Oi this peace, nothing but war and a general ruin would 
result from their union; for the one establishing certainty, 
the other doubt, the one the greatness of man, the other 
his weakness, they would destroy the truths as well as the 
falsehoods of each other. So that they cannot subsist alone 
because of their defects, nor unite because of their opposi- 
tion, and thus they break and destroy each other to give 
place to the truth of the Gospel. This it is that harmonizes 
the contrarieties by a wholly divine act, and uniting all 
that is true and expelling all that is false, thus makes of 
them a truly celestial wisdom in which those opposites ac- 
cord that were incompatible in human doctrines. And the 
reason of this is, that these philosophers of the world place 
contrarieties in the same subject; for the one attributed 
greatness to nature and the other weakness to this same 
nature, which could not subsist; whilst faith teaches us to 
place them in different subjects : all that is infirm belonging 
to nature, all that is powerful belonging to grace. Such is 
the marvellous and novel union which God alone could teach, 



404 PASCAL 

and which he alone could make, and which is only a type and 
an effect of the ineffable union of two natures in the single 
person of a Man-God. 

" I ask your pardon, sir, said M. Pascal to M. de Saci, for 
being thus carried away in your presence into theology, in- 
stead of remaining in philosophy, which alone was my sub- 
ject; but I was led to it insensibly; and it is difficult not to 
enter upon it whatever truth may be discussed, because it is 
the centre of all the truths; which appears here perfectly, 
since it so obviously includes all those that are found in 
these opinions. Thus I do not see how any of them could 
refuse to follow it. For if they are full of the idea of the 
greatness of man, what have they imagined that does not 
yield to the promises of the Gospel, which are nothing else 
than the worthy price of the death of a God? And if they 
delighted in viewing the infirmities of nature, their ideas 
do not equal those of the real weakness of sin, of which 
the same death has been the remedy. Thus all find in it 
more than they have desired; and what is marvellous, they 
who could not harmonize in an infinitely inferior degree, 
then find themselves in unison ! " 

" M. de Saci could not refrain from testifying to M. Pascal 
that he was surprised to see how well he knew how to in- 
terpret things ; but he acknowledged at the same time that 
every one had not the secret of making on these readings 
such wise and elevated reflections. He told him that he was 
like those skilful physicians, who by an adroit method of 
preparing the most deadly poisons knew how to extract 
from them the most efficacious remedies. He added, that 
though he saw clearly, from what he had just said, that these 
readings were useful to him, he could not believe however 
that they would be advantageous to many people of slow 
intellect, who would not have elevation of mind enough to 
read these authors and judge of them, and to know how to 
draw pearls from the midst of the dunghill, aurum ex ster- 
core, as said one of the Fathers. This could be much bet- 
ter said of these philosophers, the dunghill of whom, by its 
black fumes, might obscure the wavering faith of those who 
read them. For this reason he would always counsel such 
persons not to expose themselves lightly to these readings, 



MINOR WORKS 405 

for fear of being destroyed with these philosophers, and of 
becoming the prey of demons and the food of worms, ac- 
cording to the language of the Scripture, as these philoso- 
phers have been/' 

" As to the utility of these readings, said M. Pascal, I will 
tell you simply my thought. I find in Epictetus an incom- 
parable art for troubling the repose of those who seek it 
in external things, and for forcing them to acknowledge that 
they are veritable slaves and miserable blind men ; that it is 
impossible that they should find any thing else than the error 
and pain which they fly, unless they give themselves without 
reserve to God alone. Montaigne is incomparable for con- 
founding the pride of those who, outside of faith, pique 
themselves in a genuine justice; for disabusing those who 
cling to their opinions, and who think to find in the sciences 
impregnable truths; and for so effectually convicting reason 
of its want of light and its aberrations, that it is difficult, 
when one makes a good use of its principles, to be tempted 
to find repugnance in mysteries, for the mind is so over- 
whelmed by him, that it is far from wishing to judge whether 
the Incarnation or the mystery of the Eucharist are possible; 
which the generality of mankind discuss but too often. 

" But if Epictetus combats indolence, he leads to pride, so 
that he may be very injurious to those who are not persuaded 
of the corruption of the most perfect justice which is not 
from faith. And Montaigne is absolutely pernicious to those 
who have any leaning to impiety or vice. For this reason 
these readings should be regulated with much care, discre- 
tion, and regard to the condition and disposition of those 
to whom they are counselled. It seems to me only that by 
joining them together they would not succeed ill, since the 
one is opposed to the evil of the other: not that they could 
bestow virtue but only disturb vice; the soul finding itself 
combated by contrarieties, the one of which expels pride and 
the other indolence, and being unable to be tranquil in any of 
these vices by their reasonings, or to shun them all." 

" It was thus that these two persons of so fine an intellect 
agreed at last upon the subject of the reading of these 
philosophers, and met at the same goal, which they reached 
however by a somewhat different method; M. de Saci arriv- 



406 PASCAL 

ing there at once through the dear views of Christianity, 
and M. Pascal reaching it only after many turns by clinging 
to the principles of these philosophers." 



THE ART OF PERSUASION 

The art of persuasion has a necessary relation to the man- 
ner in which men are led to consent to that which is pro- 
posed to them, and to the conditions of things which it is 
sought to make them believe. 

No one is ignorant that there are two avenues by which 
opinions are received into the soul, which are its two prin- 
cipal powers: the understanding and the will. The more 
natural is that of the understanding, for we should never 
consent to any but demonstrated truths; but the more com- 
mon, though the one contrary to nature, is that of the will; 
for all men are almost led to believe not of proof, but by 
attraction. This way is base, ignoble, and irrelevant: every 
one therefore disavows it. Each one professes to believe and 
even to love nothing but what he knows to be worthy of be- 
lief and love. 

I do not speak here of divine truths, which I shall take 
care not to comprise under the art of persuasion, because 
they are infinitely superior to nature : God alone can place them 
in the soul and in such a way as it pleases him. I know that 
he has desired that they should enter from the heart into 
the mind, and not from the mind into the heart, to humiliate 
that proud power of reasoning that pretends to the right to 
be the judge of the things that the will chooses; and to 
cure this infirm will which is wholly corrupted by its filthy 
attachments. And thence it comes that whilst in speaking of 
human things, we say that it is necessary to know them 
before we can love them, which has passed into a proverb,' 
the saints on the contrary say in speaking of divine things 
that it is necessary to love them in order to know them, and 
that we only enter truth through charity, from v^^hich they 
have made one of their most useful maxims. 

From which it appears that God has established this super- 

* Ignoti nulla cupido— ** We do not desire what we do not know.** 



MINOR WORKS 407 

natural order, which is directly contrary to the order that 
should be natural to men in natural things. They have 
nevertheless corrupted this order by making of profane 
things what they should make of holy things, because in 
fact we believe scarcely any thing except that which pleases 
us. And thence comes the aversion which we have to con- 
senting to the truths of the Christian religion that are op- 
posed to our pleasures. " Tell us of pleasant things and we 
will hearken to you," said the Jews to Moses ; as if the agree- 
ableness of a thing should regulate belief! And it is to 
punish this disorder by an order which is conformed to him, 
that God only pours out his light into the mind after hav- 
ing subdued the rebellion of the will by an altogether 
heavenly gentleness which charms and wins it. 

I speak therefore only of the truths within our reach ; and 
it is of them that I say that the mind and the heart are as 
doors by which they are received into the soul, but that very 
few enter by the mind, whilst they are brought in in crowds 
by the rash caprices of the will, without the counsel of the 
reason. 

These powers have each their principles and their main- 
springs of action. 

Those of the mind are truths which are natural and known 
to all the world, as that the whole is greater than its part, 
besides several particular maxims that are received by some 
and not by others, but which as soon as they are admitted are 
as powerful, although false, in carrying away belief, as 
those the most true. 

Those of the will are certain desires natural and common 
to all mankind, as the desire of being happy, which no one 
can avoid having, besides several particular objects which 
each one follows in order to attain, and which having the 
power to please us are as powerful, although pernicious in 
fact, in causing the will to act, as though they made its 
veritable happiness. 

So much for that which regards the powers that lead us 
to consent. 

But as for the qualities of things which should persuade 
us, they are very different. 

Some are drawn, by a necessary consequence, from com- 



408 PASCAL 

mon principles and admitted truths. These may be infallibly 
persuasive; for in showing the harmony which they hav<* 
with acknowledged principles there is an inevitable neces- 
sity of conviction, and it is impossible that they shall not 
be received into the soul as soon as it has been enabled to 
class them among the principles which it has already 
admitted. 

There are some which have a close connection with the 
objects of our satisfaction; and these again are received 
with certainty, for as soon as the soul has been made to 
perceive that a thing can conduct it to that which it loves 
supremely, it must inevitably embrace it with joy. 

But those which have this double union both with admitted 
truths and with the desires of the heart, are so sure of their 
effect that there is nothing that can be more so in nature. 

As, on the contrary, that which does not accord either with 
our belief or with our pleasures is importunate, false, and 
absolutely alien to us. 

In all these positions, there is no room for doubt. But 
there are some wherein the things which it is sought to 
make us believe are well established upon truths which are. 
known, but which are at the same time contrary to the 
pleasures that interest us most. And these are in great 
danger of showing, by an experience which is only too com- 
mon, what I said at the beginning — that this imperious soul, 
which boasted of acting only by reason, follows by a rash 
and shameful choice the desires of a corrupt will, whatever 
resistance may be opposed to it by the too enlightened mind. 

Then it is that a doubtful balance is made between truth 
and pleasure, and that the knowledge of the one and the 
feeling of the other stir up a combat the success of which 
is very uncertain, since, in order to judge of it, it would 
be necessary to know all that passes in the innermost 
spirit of the man, of which the man himself is scarcely 
ever conscious. 

It appears from this, that whatever it may be of which we 
wish to persuade men, it is necessary to have regard to 
the person whom we wish to persuade, of whom we must 
know the mind and the heart, what principles he acknow- 
ledges, what things he loves; and then observe in the thing 



MINOR WORKS 409 

in question what affinity it has with the acknowledged prin- 
ciples, or with the objects so delightful by the pleasure which 
they give him. 

So that the art of persuasion consists as much in that of 
pleasing as in that of convincing, so much more are men 
governed by caprice than by reason ! 

Now, of these two methods, the one of convincing, the 
other of pleasing, I shall only give here the rules of the first; 
and this in case we have granted the principles, and remain 
firm in avowing them: otherwise I do not know whether 
there could be an art for adapting proofs to the inconstancy 
of our caprices. 

But the manner of pleasing is incomparably more difficult, 
more subtle, more useful, and more admirable; therefore, 
if I do not treat of it, it is because I am not capable of it; 
and I feel myself so far disproportionate to the task, that I 
believe the thing absolutely impossible. 

Not that I do not believe that there may be as sure rules 
for pleasing as for demonstrating, and that he who knows 
perfectly how to comprehend and to practice them will as 
surely succeed in making himself beloved by princes and by 
people of all conditions, as in demonstrating the elements of 
geometry to those who have enough imagination to compre- 
hend its hypotheses. But I consider, and it is, perhaps, my 
weakness that makes me believe it, that it is impossible to 
reach this. At least I know that if any are capable of it, 
they are certain persons whom I know, and that no others 
have such clear and such abundant light on this matter. 

The reason of this extreme difficulty comes from the fact 
that the principles of pleasure are not firm and stable. They 
are different in all mankind, and variable in every particular 
with such a diversity that there is no man more different 
from another than from himself at different times. A man 
has other pleasures than a woman; a rich man and a poor 
man have different enjoyments; a prince, a warrior, a mer- 
chant, a citizen, a peasant, the old, the young, the well, the 
sick, all vary; the least accidents change them. 

Now there is an art, and it is that which I give, for 
showing the connection of truths with their principles, 
whether of truth or of pleasure, provided that the prin- 



410 PASCAL 

ciples which have once been avowed remain firm, and with- 
out being ever contradicted. 

But as there are few principles of this kind, and as, apart 
from geometry, which deals only with very simple figures, 
there are hardly any truths upon which we always remain 
agreed, and still fewer objects of pleasure which we do not 
change every hour, I do not know whether there is a means 
of giving fixed rules for adapting discourse to the incon- 
stancy of our caprices. 

This art, which I call the art of persuading, and which, 
properly speaking, is simply the process of perfect methodical 
proofs, consists of three essential parts : of defining the terms 
of which we should avail ourselves by clear definitions; of 
proposing principles or evident axioms to prove the thing in 
question; and of always mentally substituting in the demon- 
strations the definition in the place of the thing defined. 

The reason of this method is evident, since it would be use- 
less to propose what it is sought to prove, and to undertake 
the demonstration of it, if all the terms which are not intelli- 
gible had not first been clearly defined ; and since it is neces- 
sary in the same manner that the demonstration should be 
preceded by the demand for the evident principles that are 
necessary to it, for if we do not secure the foundation we can- 
not secure the edifice; and since, in fine, it is necessary in 
demonstrating mentally, to substitute the definitions in the 
place of the things defined, as otherwise there might be an 
abuse of the different meanings that are encountered in the 
terms. It is easy to see that, by observing this method, we 
are sure of convincing, since the terms all being understood, 
and perfectly exempt from ambiguity by the definitions, and 
the principles being granted, if in the demonstration we 
always mentally substitute the definitions for the things de- 
fined, the invincible force of the conclusions cannot fail of 
having its whole effect. 

Thus, never can a demonstration in which these conditions 
have been observed be subject to the slightest doubt; and 
never can those have force in which they are wanting. 

It is, therefore, of great importance to comprehend and to 
possess them ; and hence, to render the thing easier and more 
practicable, I shall give them all in a few rules which include 



MINOR WORKS 411 

all that IS necessary for the perfection of the definitions, the 
axioms, and the demonstrations, and consequently of the entire 
method of the geometrical proofs of the art of persuading. 



Rules for Definitions 

I. Not to undertake to define any of the things so well 
known of themselves that clearer terms cannot be had to 
explain them. 

II. Not to leave any terms that are at all obscure or ambig- 
uous without definition. 

III. Not to employ in the definition of terms any words but 
such as are perfectly known or already explained. 



Rules for Axioms 

I. Not to omit any necessary principle without asking 
whether it is admitted, however clear and evident it may be. 

II. Not to demand, in axioms, any but things that are per- 
fectly evident of themsetv«)^ 



Rules for DemonsiraHtna 

I. Not to undertake to demonstrate any thing that is so 
evident of itself that nothing can be given that is clearer to 
prove it. 

II. To prove all propositions at all obscure, and to employ 
in their proof only very evident maxims or propositions 
already admitted or demonstrated. 

III. To always mentally substitute definitions in the place 
of things defined, in order not to be misled by the ambiguity 
of terms which have been restricted by definitions. 

These eight rules contain all the precepts for solid and im- 
mutable proofs, three of which are not absolutely necessary 
and may be neglected without error; while it is difficult and 
almost impossible to observe them always exactly, although it 
is more accurate to do so as far as possible; these are the 
three first of each of the divisions. 



412 PASCAL 

For definitions. Not to define any terms that are perfectly 
known. 

For axioms. Not to omit to require any axioms perfectly 
evident and simple. 

For demonstrations. Not to demonstrate any things well- 
known of themselves. 

For it is unquestionable that it is no great error to define 
and clearly explain things, although very clear of themselves, 
nor to omit to require in advance axioms which cannot 
be refused in the place where they are necessary; nor 
lastly to prove propositions that would be admitted with- 
out proof. 

But the five other rules are of absolute necessity, and can- 
not be dispensed with without essential defect and often with- 
out error; and for this reason I shall recapitulate them here 
in detail. 

Rules necessary for definitions. Not to leave any terms at 
all obscure or ambiguous without definition; 

Not to employ in definitions any but terms perfectly known 
or already explained. 

Rule necessary for axioms. Not to demand in axioms 
any but things perfectly evident. 

Rules necessary for demonstrations. To prove all proposi- 
tions, and to employ nothing for their proof but axioms fully 
evident of themselves, or propositions already demonstrated 
or admitted; 

Never to take advantage of the ambiguity of terms by fail- 
ing mentally to substitute definitions that restrict and explain 
them. 

These five rules form all that is necessary to render proofs 
convincing, immutable, and to say all, geometrical; and the 
eight rules together render them still more perfect. 

I pass now to that of the order in which the propositions 
should be arranged, to be in a complete geometrical series. 

After having established* 

This is in what consists the art of persuading, which is 
comprised in these two principles : to define all the terms of 

''The rest of the phrase is wanting; and all this second part of the com- 
position, either because it was not redacted by Pascal, or because it has 
been lost, is found neither in our MS. nor in Father Desmolets. — Faugere, 



MINOR WORKS 413 

which we make use ; to prove them all by mentally substitut- 
ing definitions in the place of things defined. 

And here it seems to me proper to anticipate three princi- 
pal objections which may be made: 

1st, that this method has nothing new; 2d, that it is very 
easy to learn, it being unnecessary for this to study the ele- 
ments of geometry, since it consists in these two words that 
ari known at the first reading; and, 3d, that it is of little 
utility, since its use is almost confined to geometrical subjects 
alone. 

It is necessary therefore to show that there is nothing so 
little known, nothing more difficult to practise, and nothing 
more useful or more universal. 

As to the first objection, that these rules are common in the 
world, that it is necessary to define every thing and to prove 
every thing, and that logicians themselves have placed them 
among the principles of their art, I would that the thing were 
true and that it were so well known that I should not have 
ihe trouble of tracing with so much care the source of all the 
defects of reasonings which are truly so common. But so little 
is this the case, that, geometricians alone excepted, who are 
so few in number that they are single in a whole nation and 
long periods of time, we see no others who know it. It will 
be easy to make this understood by those who have perfectly 
comprehended the little that I have said; but if they have not 
fully comprehended this, I confess that they will learn nothing 
from it. 

But if they have entered into the spirit of these rules, and 
if the rules have made sufificient impression on them to become 
rooted and established in their minds, they will feel how 
much difference there is between what is said here and what 
a few logicians may perhaps have written by chance approxi- 
mating to it in a few passages of their works. 

Those who have the spirit of discernment know how much 
difference there is between two similar words, according to 
their position, and the circumstances that accompany them. 
Will it be maintained, indeed, that two persons who have read 
the same book, and learned it by heart, have a like acquaint- 
ance with it, if the one comprehends it in such a manner that 
he knows all its principles, the force of its conclusions, the 



414 PASCAL 

answers to the ot)jections that may be made to it, and the 
whole economy of the work ; while to the other these are but 
dead letters and seeds, which, although like those which have 
produced such fruitful trees, remain dry and unproductive in 
the sterile mind that has received them in vain. 

All who say the same things do not possess them in the 
same manner; and hence the incomparable author of the Art 
of Conversation* pauses with so much care to make it under- 
stood that we must not judge of the capacity of a man by the 
excellence of a happy remark that we have heard him make; 
but instead of extending our admiration of a good speech to 
the speaker, let us penetrate, says he, the mind from which it 
proceeds ; let us try whether he owes it to his memory, or to 
a happy chance ; let us receive it with coldness and contempt, 
in order to see whether he will feel that we do not give to 
what he says the esteem which its value deserves: it will 
oftenest be seen that he will be made to disavow it on the 
spot, and will be drawn very far from this better thought in 
which he does not believe, to plunge himself into another 
quite base and ridiculous. We must, therefore, sound in what 
manner this thought is lodged in its author;* how, whence, 
to what extent he possesses it; otherwise, the hasty judgment 
will be a rash judge. 

I would inquire of reasonable persons whether this prin- 
ciple: Matter is naturally wholly incapable of thought, and 
this other: / think, therefore I am, are in fact the same in 
the mind of Descartes, and in that of St. Augustine, who said 
the same thing twelve hundred years before.' 

In truth, I am far from affirming that Descartes is not the 
real author of it, even though he may have learned it only 
in reading this distinguished saint ; for I know how much dif- 
ference there is between writing a word by chance without 
making a longer and more extended reflection on it, and 
perceiving in this word an admirable series of conclusions, 
which prove the distinction between material and spiritual 
natures, and making of it a firm and sustained principle of a 
complete metaphysical system, as Descartes has pretended to 

• Montaigne, Essais, liv. Ill, chap. viiu—Faucrere. 

« Montaigne*s expression is : ** Feel on all sides how it is lodged in its> 
author." Essais, same chapter. — Ibid. 

• Civ. Deis L XI. c xxvl 



MINOR WORKS 41S 

do. For without examining whether he has effectively suc- 
ceeded in his pretension, I assume that he has done so, and it 
is on this supposition that I say that this expression is as 
different in his writings from the same saying in others who 
have said it by chance, as is a man full of life and strength 
from a corpse. 

One man will say a thing of himself without comprehending 
its excellence, in which another will discern a marvellous 
series of conclusions, which make us affirm boldly that it is 
no longer the same expression, and that he is no more in- 
debted for it to the one from whom he has learned it, than a 
beautiful tree belongs to the one who cast the seed, without 
thinking of it, or knowing it, into the fruitful soil which 
caused its growth by Its own fertility. 

The same thoughts sometimes put forth quite differently In 
the mind of another than in that of their author: unfruitful 
in their natural soil, abundant when transplanted. But it 
much oftener happens that a good mind itself makes its own 
thoughts produce all the fruit of which they are capable, and 
that afterwards others, having heard them admired, borrow 
them, and adorn themselves with them, but without knowing 
their excellence ; and t Is then that the difference of the same 
word in different mouths is the most apparent. 

It is in this manner that logic has borrowed, perhaps, the 
rules of geometry, without comprehending their force; and 
thus, in placing them by chance among those that belong to 
it, it does not thence follow that they* have entered into the 
spirit of geometry, and I should be greatly averse if they 
gave no other evidence of it than that of having mentioned 
it by chance, to placing them on a level with that science 
that teaches the true method of directing the reason. 

But I should be, on the contrary, strongly disposed to ex- 
clude them from it, and almost irrevocably. For to have said 
it by chance, without having taken care that every thing was 
included within it, and instead of following this light to wan- 
der blindly in useless researches, pursuing what they promise 
but never can give, is truly showing that they are not very 
clear-sighted, and much more than If they had failed to follow 
the light, because they had not perceived it. 



416 PASCAL 

The method of not erring is sought by all the world. The 
logicians profess to guide to it, the geometricians alone attain 
it, and apart from their science, and the imitations of it, there 
are no true demonstrations. The whole art is included in the 
simple precepts that we have given ; they alone are sufficient, 
they alone afford proofs; all other rules are useless or injuri- 
ous. This I know by long experience of all kinds of books 
and persons. 

And on this point I pass the same judgment as those who 
say that geometricians give them nothing new by these rules, 
because they possessed them in reality, but confounded with a 
multitude of others, either useless or false, from which they 
could not discriminate them, as those who seeking a diamond 
of great price amidst a number of false ones, but from which 
they know not how to distinguish it, should boast, in holding 
them all together, of possessing the true one equally with him 
who without pausing at this mass of rubbish lays his hand 
upon the costly stone which they are seeking and for which 
they do not throw away the rest. 

The defect of false reasoning is a malady which is cured by 
these two remedies. Another has been compounded of an In- 
finity of useless herbs in which the good are enveloped and in 
which they remain without effect through the ill qualities of 
the compound. 

To discover all the sophistries and equivocations of captious 
reasonings, they have invented barbarous names that aston- 
ish those who hear them ; and whilst we can only unravel all 
the tangles of this perplexing knot by drawing out one of the 
ends in the way proposed by geometricians, they have in- 
dicated a strange number of others in which the former are 
found included without knowing which is the best. 

And thus, in showing us a number of paths which they say 
conduct us whither we tend, although there are but two that 
lead to it, it is necessary to know how to mark them in par- 
ticular. It will be pretended that geometry which indicates 
them with certainty gives only what had already been given 
by others, because they gave in fact the same thing and more, 
without heeding that this boon lost its value by abundance, 
and was diminished by adding to it. 

Nothing is more common than good things: the point in 



MINOR WORKS 417 

question is only to discriminate them; and it is certain that 
they are all natural and within our reach and even known 
to all mankind. But they know not how to distinguish them. 
This is universal. It is not among extraordinary and fantastic 
things that excellence is to be found, of whatever kind it may 
be. We rise to attain it and become removed from it: it is 
oftenest necessary to stoop for it. The best books are those, 
which those who read them believe they themselves could 
have written. Nature, which alone is good, is wholly familiar 
and common. 

I make no doubt therefore that these rules, being the true 
ones, are simple, artless, and natural, as in fact they are. It 
is not Barbara and Baralipton that constitute reasoning. The 
mind must not be forced ; artificial and constrained manners 
fill it with foolish presumption, through unnatural elevation 
and vain and ridiculous inflation, instead of solid and vigorous 
nutriment. And one of the principal reasons that diverts those 
who are entering upon this knowledge so much from the true 
path which they should follow, is the fanc)^ that they take at 
the outset that good things are inaccessible, giving them the 
name of great, lofty, elevated, sublime. This destroys every 
thing. I would call them low, common, familiar: these names 
suit them better ; I hate such inflated expressions. 



DISCOURSE 

On the Passion of Love? 

Man is born for thought; therefore he is not a moment 
without it; but the pure thoughts that would render him 
happy, if he could always maintain them, weary and oppress 
him. They make a uniform life to which he cannot adapt 
himself; he must have excitement and action, that is, it is 
necessary that he should sometimes be agitated by those pas- 
sions the deep and vivid sources of which he feels within his 
heart. 

The passions which are the best suited to man and include 
many others, are love and ambition: they have little connec- 

^The authenticity of this fragment is disputed. 

HC XLVIII (n) 



418 PASCAL 

tion with each other; nevertheless they are often allied; but 
they mutually weaken, not to say destroy, each other. 

Whatever compass of mind one may have, he is capable of 
only one great passion; hence, when love and ambition are 
found together, they are only half as great as they would be 
if only one of them existed. The time of life determines 
neither the beginning nor the end of these two passions ; they 
spring up in the earliest years and subsist very often unto the 
tomb. Nevertheless, as they require much warmth, young 
persons are best fitted for them, and it seems that they abate 
with years : this however is very rare. 

The life of man is miserably brief. It is usually computed 
from his first entrance into the world; for my part, I would 
only compute it from the birth of reason and from the time 
that man begins to be influenced by it, which does not ordi- 
narily happen before twenty years of age. Before this time, 
we are children, and a child is not a man 

How happy is a life that begins with love and ends with 
ambition ! If I had to choose, this is the one I should take. 
Sr long as we have ardor we are amiable ; but this ardor dies 
out, is lost ; then what a fine and noble place is left for ambi- 
tion I A tumultuous life is pleasing to great minds, but those 
who are mediocre have no pleasure in it; they are machines 
everywhere. Hence when love and ambition begin and end 
life, we are in the happiest condition of which human nature 
is capable. 

The more mind we have the greater the passions are, since 
the passions being only sentiments and thoughts that belong 
purely to the mind although they are occasioned by the body, 
it is obvious that they are no longer any thing but the mind 
itself, and that thus they fill up its entire capacity. I speak 
here only of the ardent passions, for the others are often min- 
gled together and cause a very annoying confusion; but this 
is never the case in those who have mind. 

In a great soul everything is great. 

It is asked whether it is necessary to love? This should 
not be asked, it should be felt. We do not deliberate upon it, 
we are forced to it, and take pleasure in deceiving ourselves 
when we discuss it. 

Definiteness of mind causes definiteness of passion ; this is 



MINOR WORKS 419 

why a great and definite mind loves with ardor, and sees dis- 
tinctly what it loves. 

There are two kinds of mind: the one geometrical, and the 
other what may be called the imaginative (de finesse). 

The former is slow, rigid, and inflexible in its views, but the 
latter has a suppleness of thought which fastens at once upon 
the various pleasing qualities of what it loves. From the eyes 
it goes to the heart itself, and from the expression without it 
knows what is passing within. 

When we have both kinds of mind combined, how much 
pleasure is given by love ! For we possess at the same time 
thi strength and the flexibility of mind essentially necessary 
for the eloquence of two persons. 

We are born with a disposition to love In our hearts, which 
is developed in proportion as the mind is perfected, and impels 
us to love what appears to us beautiful without ever having 
been told what this is. Who can doubt after this whether we 
at- In the world for anything else than to love? In fact, we 
conceal in vain, we always love. In the very things from 
which love seems to have been separated, it is found secretly 
and under seal, and man could not live a moment without 
this. 

Man does not like to dwell with himself; nevertheless he 
loves ; it is necessary then that he seek elsewhere something 
to love. He can find it only in beauty; but as he is himself 
the most beautiful creature that God has ever formed, he must 
find in himself the model of this beauty which he seeks with- 
out. Every one can perceive in himself the first glimmerings 
of it; and according as we observe that what is without 
agrees or disagrees with these, we form our ideas of beauty 
or deformity in all things. Nevertheless, although man seeks 
wherewith to fill up the great void he makes in going out of 
himself, he cannot however be satisfied with every kind of 
object. His heart is too large; it is necessary at least that it 
should be something that resembles him and approaches him 
as near as may be. Hence the beauty that can satisfy man 
consists not only in fitness, but also in resemblance; it is 
restricted and confined to the difference of sex. 

Nature has so well impressed this truth on our souls, that 
we find a predisposition to all this; neither art nor study is 



420 PASCAL 

required; it even seems that we have a place to fill in our 
hearts which is thus filled effectively. But we feel this better 
than we can express it. It is only those who know how to 
confuse and contemn their ideas who do not see it. 

Although this general idea of beauty may be engraven in 
the innermost part of our souls with ineffaceable characters, 
it does not prevent us from being susceptible of great differ- 
ences in its individual application ; but this is only in the man- 
ner of regarding what pleases us. For we do not wish for 
• beauty alone, but desire in connection with it a thousand 
circumstances that depend on the disposition in which it is 
found, and it is in this sense that it may be said that each one 
possesses the original of his beauty, the copy of which he is 
seeking externally. Nevertheless, women often determine 
this original. As they have an absolute empire over the 
minds of men, they paint on them either the qualities of the 
beauties which they possess or those which they esteem, and 
by this means add what pleases them to this radical beauty. 
Hence there is one epoch for blondes, another for brunettes, 
and the division there is among women in respect to esteem 
for the one or the other makes at the same time the difference 
among men in this regard. 

Fashion even and country often regulate what is called 
beauty. It is a strange thing that custom should mingle so 
strongly with our passions. This does not hinder each one 
from having his idea of beauty by which he judges others 
and with which he compares them ; it is on this principle that 
' a lover finds his mistress the most beautiful and proposes her 
as a model. 

Beauty is divided in a thousand different ways. The most 
proper object to sustain it is a woman. When she has intel- 
lect, she enlivens it and sets it off marvellously. If a woman 
wishes to please, and possess the advantages of beauty or a 
portion of them at least, she will succeed; and even though 
men take ever so little heed of it, although she does not 
strive for it, she will make herself loved. There is an 
accessible point in their hearts; she will take up her abode 
there. 

Man is born for pleasure ; he feels it ; no other proof of it 
is needed. He therefore follows his reason in giving himself 



MINOR WORKS 421 

to pleasure. But very often he feels passion in his heart with- 
out knowing in what it originated. 

A true or false pleasure can equally fill the mind. For what 
matters it that this pleasure is false, if we are persuaded that 
it is true? 

By force of speaking of love we become enamored. There 
is nothing so easy. It is the passion most natural to man. 

Love has no age ; it is always young. So the poets tell us ; 
it is for this that they represent it to us under the figure of a 
child. But without asking any thing of it, we feel it. 

Love gives intellect and is sustained by intellect. Address 
is needed in order to love. We daily exhaust the methods of 
pleasing ; nevertheless it is necessary to please and we please. 

We have a fountain of self-love which represents us to our- 
selves as being able to fill several places outside of ourselves ; 
this is what makes us happy to be loved. As we desire it 
with ardor, we quickly remark it and perceive it in the eyes 
of the person who loves. For the eyes are the interpreters 
of the heart; but he alone who is interested in them can 
understand their language. 

Man by himself is something imperfect; he must find a 
second in order to be happy. He oftenest seeks it in equality 
of condition, because in that the liberty and the opportunity 
of manifesting his wishes are most easily found. Yet he 
sometimes rises above this, and feels the kindling flame 
although he dares not tell it to the one who has caused it. 

When we love a woman of unequal condition, ambition 
may accompany the beginning of the love; but in a little 
time the latter becomes master. It is a tyrant that will suffer 
no companion ; it wishes to be alone ; all the other passions 
must bend to it and obey it. 

An elevated attachment fills the heart of man much better 
than a common and equal one; and little things float in his 
capacity; none but great ones lodge and dwell therein. 

We often write things which we only prove by obliging 
every one to reflect upon himself, and find the truth of 
which we are speaking. In this consists the force of the 
proofs of what I assert. 

When a man is fastidious in any quality of his mind, he is 
so in love. For as he must be moved by every object that is 



422 PASCAL 

outside of himself, if there is any thing that is repugnant to 
his ideas, he perceives and shuns it; the rule of this fastid- 
iousness depends on a pure, noble, and s.ublime reason. Thus 
we can believe ourselves fastidious without actually being so, 
and others have the right to condemn us; whilst for beauty 
each one has his rule, sovereign and independent of that of 
others. Yet between being fastidious and not being so at 
all, it must be granted that when one desires to be fastidious 
he is not far from actually being so. Women like to per- 
ceive fastidiousness in men, and this is, it seems to me, the 
most vulnerable point whereby to gain them: we are pleased 
to see that a thousand others are contemned and that we 
alone are esteemed. 

Qualities of mind are not acquired by habit; they are only 
perfected. Whence it is easy to see that fastidiousness is a 
gift of nature and not an acquisition of art. 

In proportion as we have more intellect, we find more 
original beauties; but this is not necessary in order to be in 
love ; for when we love, we find but one. 

Does it not seem that as often as a woman goes out of her- 
self to impress the hearts of others, she makes a place void 
for others in her own? Yet, I know some who affirm that 
this is not true. Dare we call this injustice? It is natural 
to give back as much as we have taken. 

Attachment to the same thought wearies and destroys the 
mind of man. Hence for the solidity and permanence of the 
pleasure of love, it is sometimes necessary not to know that 
we love ; and this is not to be guilty of an infidelity, for we 
do not therefore love another; it is to regain strength in 
order to love the better. This happens without our thinking 
of it; the mind is borne hither of itself; nature wills it, com- 
mands it. It must however be confessed that this is a miser- 
able consequence of human weakness, and that we should be 
happier if we were not forced to change of thought ; but there 
is no remedy. 

The pleasure of loving without daring to tell it, has its 
pains, but it has its joys also. What transport do we not feel 
in moulding all our actions in view of pleasing the person 
whom we infinitely esteem! We study each day to find the 
means of revealing ourselves, and thus employ as much 



MINOR WORKS 423 

t!me as if we were holding converse with the one whom we 
love. The eyes kindle and grow dim at the same moment, 
and although we do not see plainly that the one who causes 
this disorder takes heed of it, we still have the satisfaction 
of feeling all these emotions for a person who deserves 
them so well. We would gladly have a hundred tongues to 
make it known; for as we cannot make use of words, 
we are obliged to confine ourselves to the eloquence of 
action. 

Up to this point we have constant delight and sufficient 
occupation* Thus we are happy ; for the secret of keeping a 
passion constantly alive is to suffer no void to spring up in 
the mind, by obliging it to apply itself without ceasing to 
what moves h W) agreeably. But when it is in the state that 
I have just described, it cannot last long, because being sole 
actor in a passion in which there must necessarily be two, it 
is difficult to hinder it from soon exhausting all the emotions 
by which it is agitated. 

Although the passion may be the same, novelty is needed ; 
the mind takes delight in it, and he who knows how to pro- 
cure it, knows how to make himself loved. 

After having gone thus far, this plenitude sometimes di- 
minishes, and receiving no assistance from the side of its 
source, we decline miserably, and hostile passions take pos- 
session of a heart which they rend into a thousand pieces. 
Yet a ray of hope, however faint it may be, exalts us as high 
as we were before* This is sometimes a play in which 
women delight; but sometimes in feigning to have compas- 
sion, they have it in reality. How happy we are when this 
is the case! 

A firm and solid love always begins with the eloquence of 
action ; the eyes have the best share in it. Nevertheless it is 
necessary to conjecture, but to conjecture rightly. 

When two persons are of the same sentiments, they do not 
conjecture, or at least one conjectures what the other means 
to say without the other understanding it or daring to under- 
stand. 

When we love, we appear to ourselves quite different from 
what we were before. Thus we imagine that every one 
perceives it ; yet nothing is more false. But because the per- 



424 PASCAL 

ception of reason is bounded by passion,, we cannot assure 
ourselves and are always suspicious. 

When we love, we are persuaded that we shall discover the 
passion of another: thus we are afraid. 

The longer the way is in love, the greater is the pleasure 
that a sensitive mind feels in it. 

There are certain minds to which hopes must long be 
given, and these are minds of refinement. There are others 
which cannot long resist difficulties, and these are the gross- 
est. The former love longer and with more enjoyment; the 
latter love quicker, with more freedom, and sooner end. 

The first effect of love is to inspire a profound respect; 
we have veneration for what we love. It is very just; we 
see nothing in the world so great as this. 

Authors cannot tell us much of the love of their heroes; it 
is necessary that they should have been the heroes them- 
selves. 

Wandering in love is as monstrous as injustice in the 
mind. 

In love, silence is of more avail than speech. It is good to 
be abashed; there is an eloquence m silence that penetrates 
more deeply than language can. How well a lover persuades 
his mistress when he is abashed before her, who elsewhere 
has so much presence of mind ! Whatever vivacity we may 
have, it is well that in certain junctures it should be extin- 
guished. All this takes place without rule or reflection, and 
when the mind acts, it is without thinking of it beforehand. 
This happens through necessity. 

We often adore one that is unconscious of it, and do not 
fail to preserve an inviolable fidelity, although its object 
knows nothing of it. But this love must be very refined or 
very pure. 

We know the minds of men, and consequently their pas- 
sions, by the comparison that we make between ourselves 
and others. 

I am of the opinion of him who said that in love one for- 
gets his fortune, his relatives, and his friends; the most 
elevated attachments go as far as this. What causes us to 
go so far in love is that we do not think we have need of 
anything else than the object of our love: the mind is full; 



MINOR WORKS 425 

there is no longer any room for care or solicitude. Passion 
cannot exist without excess: thence it comes that we care 
no longer for what the world says, as we know already 
that our conduct ought not to be condemned, since it comes 
from reason. There is fulness of passion, and can be no 
beginning of reflection. 

It is not an effect of custom, it is an obligation of nature, 
that men make the advances to gain the attachment of 
women. 

This forgetfulness that is caused by love, and this attach- 
ment to the object of our love, make qualities spring up that 
we had not before. We become magnificent, without ever 
having been so. 

The miser himself who loves becomes liberal, and does 
not remember ever to have had a contrary disposition; we 
see the reason of this in considering that there are some 
passions which contract the soul and render it stagnant, and 
that there are others which expand it and cause it to over- 
flow. 

We have unaptly taken away the name of reason from love 
and have opposed them to each other without good founda- 
tion, for love and reason are but the same thing. It is a pre- 
cipitation of thought which is impelled to a side before fully 
examining every thing, but it is still a reason, and we should 
not and cannot wish that it were otherwise, for we would 
then be very disagreeable machines. Let us not therefore 
exclude reason from love, since they are inseparable. The 
poets were not right in painting Love blind ; we must take off 
his bandage and restore to him henceforth the enjoyment 
of his eyes. 

Souls fitted for love demand a life of action which be- 
comes brilliant in new events. The external excitement 
must correspond with the internal, and this manner of living 
is a marvellous road to passion. Thence it is that courtiers 
are more successful in love than citizens, since the former 
are all fire and the latter lead a life in the uniformity of 
which there is nothing striking: a tempestuous life sur- 
prises, strikes, and penetrates. 

It seems as though we had quite another soul when we 
love than when we do not love; we are exalted by this 



426 PASCAL 

passion and become all greatness; the rest therefore must 
have proportion, otherwise this does not harmonize and is 
consequently disagreeable. 

The pleasing and the beautiful are only the same thing; 
every one has his idea of it. It is of a moral beauty that I 
mean to speak, which consists in external words and actions. 
We have a rule indeed for becoming agreeable; yet the 
disposition of the body is necessary to it, but this cannot be 
acquired. 

Men have taken pleasure in forming for themselves so 
elevated a standard of the pleasing that no one can attain it. 
Let us judge of it better, and say that this is simply nature 
with surprising facility and vivacity of mind. In love these 
two qualities are necessary. There must be nothing of force, 
and yet there must be nothing of slowness : habit gives the rest. 

Respect and love should be so well proportioned as tp sus- 
tain each other without love being stifled by respect. 

Great souls are not those that love oftenest ; it is a violent 
love of which I speak; an inundation of passion is needed to 
move them and fill them. But when they begin to love, they 
love much more strongly. 

It is said that there are some nations more amorous than 
others; this is not speaking rightly, or at least it is not true 
in every sense. 

Love consisting only in an attachment of thought, it is cer- 
tain that it must be the same over all the earth. It is true 
that, considering it otherwise than in the thought, the climate 
may add something, but this is only in the body. 

It is with love as with good sense; as one man believes 
himself to have as much mind as another, he also believes 
that he loves the same. Yet, they who have the most 
perception, love even to the most trifling things, which is not 
possible for others. It is necessary to be very subtle to 
remark this difference. 

One cannot feign to love unless he is very near being a 
lover, or at least unless he loves in some direction; for the 
mind and the thoughts of love are requisite for this seeming, 
and how shall we find means of speaking well without this? 
The truth of passion is not so easily disguised as serious 
truth. 



MINOR WORKS 427 

We must have ardor, activity, and prompt and natural 
warmth of mind for the former; the latter we conceal by 
slowness and pliancy, which it is easier to do. 

When we are at a distance from the object of our love, we 
resolve to do or to say many things; but when we are near, 
we are irresolute. Whence comes this? It is because when 
we are at a distance reason is not so much perturbed, but is 
strangely so in the presence of the object: now for resolution, 
firmness is needed, which is destroyed by perturbation. 

In love we dare not hazard, because we fear to lose every 
thing; it is necessary, however, to advance, but who can say 
how far? We tremble constantly until we have found this 
point. Prudence does nothing towards maintaining it when 
it is found. 

There is nothing so embarrassing as to be a lover, and to 
see something in our favor without daring to believe it; we 
are alike opposed by hope and fear. But finally the latter 
becomes victorious over the other. 

When we love ardently, it is always a novelty to see the 
person beloved. After a moment's absence, he finds a void 
in his heart. What happiness is it to find her again ! he feels 
at once a cessation of anxiety. 

It is necessary, however, that this love should be already 
far advanced; for when it is budding, and has made no 
progress, we feel indeed a cessation of anxiety, but others 
supervene. 

Although troubles thus succeed each other, one is not hin- 
dered from desiring the presence of his mistress by the hope 
of suffering less; yet, when he sees her, he fancies that he 
suffers more than before. Past troubles no longer move 
him, the present touch him, and it is of those that touch him 
that he judges. 

Is not a lover in this state worthy of compassion ? 



OF THE GEOMETRICAL SPIRIT 

We may have three principal objects in the study of truth: 
one to discover it when it is sought; another to demonstrate 
it when it is possessed; and a third, to discriminate it from 
the false when it is examined. 



428 PASCAL 

I do not speak of the first; I treat particularly of the 
second, and it includes the third. For if we know the 
method of proving the truth, we shall have, at the same 
time, that of discriminating it, since, in examining whether 
the proof that is given of it is in conformity with the rules 
that are understood, we shall know whether it is exactly 
demonstrated. 

Geometry, which excels in these three methods, has ex- 
plained the art of discovering unknown truths; this it is 
which is called analysis, and of which it would be useless to 
discourse after the many excellent works that have been 
written on it. 

That of demonstrating truths already found, and of elu- 
cidating them in such a manner that the proof of them 
shall be irresistible, is the only one that I wish to give; and 
for this I have only to explain the method which geometry 
observes in it; for she teaches it perfectly by her examples, 
although she may produce no discourse on it. And since 
this art consists in two principal things, the one in proving 
each proposition by itself, the other in disposing all the 
propositions in the best order, I shall make of it two sec- 
tions, of which the one will contain the rules for the conduct 
of geometrical, that is, methodical and perfect demonstra- 
tions; and the second will comprehend that of geometrical, 
that is, methodical and complete order: so that the two 
together will include all that will be necessary to direct 
reasoning, in proving and discriminating truths, which I 
design to give entire. 



Section First — Of the method of geometrical, that is, of 
methodical and perfect demonstrations. 

I cannot better explain the method that should be pre- 
served to render demonstrations convincing, than by explain- 
ing that which is observed by geometry. 

But it is first necessary that I should give the idea of a 
method still more eminent and more complete, but which 
mankind could never attain ; for what exceeds geometry sur- 



MINOR WORKS 439 

passes us; and, nevertheless, something must be said of it, 
although it is impossible to practise it* 

This true method, which would form demonstrations in the 
highest excellence, if it were possible to arrive at it, would 
consist in two principal things: the one, in employing no 
term the meaning of which had not first been clearly ex- 
plained; the other, in never advancing any proposition which 
could not be demonstrated by truths already known ; that is, 
in a word, in defining every term, and in proving every 
proposition. But to follow the same order that I am explain- 
ing, it is necessary that I should state what I mean by 
definition. 

The only definitions recognized in geometry are what the 
logicians call definitions of name, that is, the arbitrary ap- 
plication of names to things which are clearly designated 
by terms perfectly known; and it is of these alone that I 
speak. 

Their utility and use is to elucidate and abbreviate dis- 
course, in expressing by the single name that has been im- 
posed what could otherwise be only expressed by several 
terms; so that nevertheless the name imposed remains di- 
vested of all other meaning, if it has any, having no longer 
any than that for which it is alone designed. Here is an 
example : 

If we are under the necessity of discriminating numbers 
that are divisible equally by two from those which are not, in 
order to avoid the frequent repetition of this condition, a 



* After this paragraph occur in the MS. the following lines, written in a 
finer hand, and inclosed in parenthesis: 

" . . . is much more to succeed in the one than the other, and I have 
chosen this science to attain it only because it alone knows the true rules 
of reasoning, and, without stopping at the rules of syllogisms which are so 
natural that we cannot be ignorant of them, stops and establishes itself 
upon the true method of conducting reasoning in all things, which almost 
every one is ignorant of, and which it is so advantageous to know, that 
we see by experience that among equal minds and like circumstances, he 
who possesses geometry bears it away, and acquires a new vigor. 

" I wish, therefore, to explain what demonstrations are by the example 
of those of geometry, which is almost the only one of the human sciences 
that produces infallible ones, because she alone observes the true method, 
whilst all the others are, through a natural necessity, in a sort of confusion, 
which the geometricians alone know exceedingly well how to comprehend. * 

On the margin of this fragment is in the MS. the following note: " That 
which is in small characters was hidden under a paper, the edges of which 
were glued, and upon which was written the article beginning: I cannot 
better explain, etc." — Faugere, 



430 PASCAL 

name is given to it in this manner: I call every number 
divisible equally by two, an even number. 

This is a geometrical definition; because after having 
clearly designated a thing, namely, every member divisible 
equally by two, we give it a name divested of every other 
meaning, if it has any, in order to give it that of the thing 
designated. 

Hence it appears that definitions are very arbitrary, and 
that they are never subject to contradiction; for nothing is 
more permissible than to give to a thing which has been 
clearly designated, whatever name we choose. It is only 
necessary to take care not to abuse the liberty that we possess 
of imposing names, by giving the same to two different 
things. 

Not that this may not be permissible, provided we do not 
confound the consequences, and do not extend them from 
the one to the other. 

But if we fall into this error, we can oppose to it a sure 
and infallible remedy: that of mentally substituting the 
definition in the place of the thing defined, and of having 
the definition always so present, that every time we speak, 
lor example, of an even number, we mean precisely that 
which is divisible into two equal parts, and that these two 
things should be in such a degree joined and inseparable in 
thought, that ^s soon as the discourse expresses the one, 
the mind attache^ it immediately to the other. For geome- 
tricians, and all those who proceed methodically, only impose 
names on things to abbreviate discourse, and not to diminish 
or change the idea of the things of which they are discours- 
ing. And they pretend that the mind always supplies the 
full definition to the concise terms, which they only employ 
to avoid the confusion occasioned by the multitude of words. 

Nothing more promptly and more effectually removes the 
captious cavils of sophists than this method, which it is neces- 
sary to have always present, and which alone suffices to 
banish all kinds of difficulties and equivocations. 

These things being well understood, I return to the ex- 
planation of the true order, which consists, as I have said, 
in defining every thing and in proving every thing. 

This method would certainly be beautiful, but it is abso- 



MINOR WORKS 431 

lutely impossible; for it is evident that the first terms that 
we wished to define would imply precedents to serve for their 
explanation, and that in the same manner, the first proposi- 
tions that we wished to prove would imply others which 
had preceded them ; and thus it is clear that we should never 
reach the first. 

Thus, in pushing our researches further and further, we 
arrive necessarily at primitive words which can no longer be 
defined, and at principles so clear that we can find no others 
that can serve as a proof of them. 

Hence it appears that men are naturally and immutably 
impotent to treat of any science so that it may be in an abso- 
lutely complete order. 

But it does not thence follow that we should abandon every 
kind of order. 

For there is one, and it is that of geometry, which is in 
truth inferior in that it is less convincing, but not in that it 
is less certain. It does not define every thing and does not 
prove every thing, and it is in this that it is inferior; but it 
assumes nothing but things clear and constant by natural 
enlightenment, and this is why it is perfectly true, nature 
sustaining it in default of discourse. 

This order, the most perfect of any among men, consists 
not at all in defining every thing or in demonstrating every 
thing, nor in defining nothing or in demonstrating nothing, 
but in adhering to this middle course of not defining things 
clear and understood by all mankind, and of defining the 
rest; of not proving all the things known to mankind, and 
of proving all the rest. Against this order those sin alike 
who undertake to define everything and to prove every 
thing, and who neglect to do it in those things which are not 
evident of themselves. 

This is what is perfectly taught by geometry. She does 
not define any of these things, space, time, motion, number, 
equality, and similar things which exist in great number, be- 
cause these terms so naturally designate the things that they 
mean, to those who understand the language, that their eluci- 
dation would afford more obscurity than instruction. 

For there is nothing more feeble than the discourse of 
those who wish to define these primitive words. What neces- 



432 PASCAL 

sity is there, for example, of explaining what is understood 
by the word man? Do we not know well enough what the 
thing is that we wish to designate by this term? And what 
advantage did Plato think to procure us in saying that he 
was a two-legged animal without feathers? As though the 
idea that I have of him naturally, and which I cannot ex- 
press, were not clearer and surer than that which he gives 
me by his useless and even ridiculous explanation; since a 
man does not lose humanity by losing the two legs, nor 
does a capon acquire it by losing his feathers. 

There are those who are absurd enough to explain a word 
by the word itself. I know some who have defined light in 
this wise : Light is a luminary movement of luminous bodies, 
as though we could understand the words luminary and 
luminous without the word light.' 

We cannot undertake to define being without falling into 
the same absurdity: for we cannot define a word without be- 
ginning with the word it is, either expressed or understood. 
To define being therefore, it is necessary to say it is, and thus 
to employ the word defined in the definition. 

We see clearly enough from this that there are some words 
incapable of being defined; and, if nature had not supplied 
this defect by a corresponding idea which she has given to all 
mankind, all our expressions would be confused; whilst 
we use them with the same assurance and the same certainty 
as though they were explained in a manner perfectly exempt 
from ambiguities; because nature herself has given us, with- 
out words, a clearer knowledge of them than art could ac- 
quire by our explanations. 

It is not because all men have the same idea of the essence 
of the things that I say that it is impossible and useless to 
define. 

For, for example, time is of this sort. Who can define it? 

' Pascal alludes here to Father Noel, a Jesuit, with whom he had had a 
warm discussion on the subject of his Experiences touchant le vide. In a 
letter that he wrote to Father Noel in 1647, he said: "The sentence which 
precedes your closing compliments defines light in these terms: Light is 
a luminous motion of rays composed of lucid, that is, luminous bodies; upon 
which, I have to tell you that it seems to me that you ought first to have 
defined what luminous is, and what z. lucid or luminous body is, for till 
then, I cannot understand what light is. And as we never make use in 
definitions of the term of the thing defined, I should have difficulty in_ con- 
forming to yours which says: Light is a luminary motion of a luminous 
Body." — Faugere, 



MINOR WORKS 433 

And why undertake it, since all men conceive what is meant 
in speaking of time, without any further definition? Never- 
theless there are many different opinions touching the 
essence of time. Some say that it is the movement of a 
created thing; others, the measure of the movement, etc. 
Thus it is not the nature of these things that I say is 
known to all; it is simply the relation between the name 
and the thing ; so that at the expression time, all direct their 
thoughts towards the same object; which suffices to cause 
this term to have no need of being defined, though after- 
wards, in examining what time is, we come to differ in 
sentiment after having been led to think of it; for defini- 
tions are only made to designate the things that are named, 
and not to show the nature of them. 

It is not because it is not permissible to call by the name of 
time the movement of a created thing; for, as I have just 
said, nothing is more arbitrary than definitions. 

But after this definition there will be two things that will 
be called by the name of time: the one is what the whole 
world understands naturally by this word and what all those 
who speak our language call by this term; the other will be 
the movement of a created thing, for this will also be called 
by this name, according to this new definition. 

It is necessary therefore to shun ambiguities and not to 
confound consequences. For it will not follow from this 
that the thing that is naturally understood by the word time 
is in fact the movement of a created thing. It has been 
allowable to name these two things the same; but it will 
not be to make them agree in nature as well as in name. 

Thus, if we advance this proposition — time is the movement 
of a created thing, it is necessary to ask what is meant by 
this word time, that is, whether the usual and generally re- 
ceived meaning is left to it, or whether it is divested of this 
meaning in order to give to it on this occasion that of the 
movement of a created thing. For if it be stripped of all 
other meaning, it cannot be contradicted, and it will be- 
come an arbitrary definition, in consequence of which, 
as I have said, there will be two things that will have the 
same name. But if its ordinary meaning be left to it, and 
it be pretended nevertheless that what is meant by this word 



434 PASCAL 

is the movement of a created thing, it can be contradicted 
It is no longer an arbitrary definition, but a proposition that 
must be proved, if it is not evident of itself; and this will 
then be a principle or an axiom, but never a definition, since 
in this enunciation it is not understood that the word time 
signifies the same thing as the movement of a created thing, 
but it is understood that what is conceived by the term time 
is this supposed movement. 

If I did not know how necessary it is to understand this 
perfectly, and how continually occasions like this, of which I 
give the example, happen both in familiar and scientific 
discourses, I should not dwell upon it. But it seems to me, 
by the experience that I have had from the confusion of con- 
troversies, that we cannot too fully enter into this spirit of 
precision, for the sake of which I write this treatise rather 
than the subject of which I treat in it. 

For how many persons are there who fancy that they have 
defined time, when they have said that it is the measure of 
movement, leaving it, however, its ordinary meaning! And 
nevertheless they have made a proposition and not a defini- 
tion. How many are there, in the like manner, who fancy 
that they have defined movement, when they have said: 
Motus nee simpliciter motus, non mera potentia est, sed actus 
entis in potentia! And nevertheless, if they leave to the word 
movement its ordinary meaning as they do, it is not a defini- 
tion but a proposition; and confounding thus the definitions 
which they call definitions of name, which are the true arbi- 
trary definitions permissible and geometrical, with those 
which they call definitions of thing, which, properly speaking, 
are not at all arbitrary definitions, but are subject to con- 
tradiction, they hold themselves at liberty to make these as 
well as others: and each defining the same things in his 
own way, by a liberty which is as unjustifiable in this kind 
of definitions as It is permissible in the former, they perplex 
every thing, and losing all order and all light, become lost 
themselves and wander into Inextricable embarrassments. 

We shall never fall Into such In following the order of 
geometry. This judicious science Is far from defining such 
primitive words as space, time, motion, equality, majority, 
diminution, whole, and others which every one understands. 



MINOR WORKS 4^ 

But apart from these, the rest of the terms that this science 
employs are to such a degree elucidated and defined that 
we have no need of a dictionary to understand any of them ; 
so that in a word all these terms are perfectly intelligible, 
either by natural enlightenment or by the definitions that 
it gives of them. 

This is the manner in which it avoids all the errors that 
may be encountered upon the first point, which consists in 
defining only the things that have need of it. It makes 
use of it in the same manner in respect to the other point, 
which consists in proving the propositions that are not 
evident. 

For, when it has arrived at the first known truths, it pauses 
there and asks whether they are admitted, having nothing 
clearer whereby to prove them; so that all that is proposed 
by geometry is perfectly demonstrated, either by natural 
enlightenment or by proofs. 

Hence it comes that if this science does not define and 
demonstrate every thing, it is for the simple reason that 
this is impossible.* 

It will perhaps be found strange that geometry does not 
define any of the things that it has for its principal objects: 
for it can neither define motion, numbers, nor space; and 
nevertheless these three things are those of which it treats in 
particular, and according to the investigation of which it 
takes the three different names of mechanics, arithmetic, and 
geometry, this last name belonging to the genus and species. 

But this will not surprise us if we remark that, this admir- 
able science only attaching itself to the simplest things, this 
same quality which renders them worthy of being its objects 
renders them incapable of being defined; so that the lack of 
definition is a perfection rather than a defect, since it does 
not come from their obscurity, but on the contrary from their 
extreme obviousness, which is such that though it may not 
have the conviction of demonstrations, it has all their cer- 
tainty. It supposes therefore that we know what is the thing 
that is understood by the words motion, number, space; and 

« Here the MS. adds in parenthesis: ** (But as nature punishes all that 

science does not bestow, its order in truth does not give a superhuman 
perfection, but it has all that man can attain. It has seemed to me proper 
to give from the beginning •£ this discourse this, etc),"—Faug^re. 



436 PASCAL 

without stopping to define them to no purpose, it penetrates 
their nature and discovers their marvellous properties. 

These three things which comprehend the whole universe, 
according to the words : Deus fecit omnia in pondere, in nu- 
mero, et mensura* have a reciprocal and necessary connec- 
tion. For we cannot imagine motion without something that 
moves; and this thing being one, this unity is the origin of 
all numbers; and lastly, motion not being able to exist with- 
out space, we see these three things included within the first. 

Time even is also comprehended in it; for motion and time 
are relative to each other ; speed and slowness, which are the 
differences of motion, having a necessary relation to time. 

Thus there are properties common to all these things, the 
knowledge of which opens the mind to the greatest marvels 
of nature. 

The chief of these comprehends the two infinitudes which 
are combined in every thing: the one of greatness the other 
of littleness. 

For however quick a movement may be, we can conceive 
of one still more so; and so on ad infinitum, without ever 
reaching one that would be swift to such a degree that 
nothing more could be added to it. And, on the contrary, 
however slow a movement may be, it can be retarded still 
more; and thus ad infinitum, without ever reaching such a 
degree of slowness that we could not thence descend into 
an infinite number of others, without falling into rest. 

In the same manner, however great a number may be, we 
can conceive of a greater; and thus ad infinitum, without 
ever reaching one that can no longer be increased. And 
on the contrary, however small a number may be, as the 
hundredth or ten thousandth part, we can still conceive of 
a less ; and so on ad infinitum, without ever arriving at zero 
or nothingness. 

However great a space may be, we can conceive of a 
greater ; and thus ad iniinitum, without ever arriving at one 
which can no longer be Increased. And, on the contrary, 
however small a space may be, we can still Imagine a smaller ; 
and so on ad infinitum, without ever arriving at one in- 
divisible, which has no longer any extent. 

• ** God has made all things in weight, number and proportion.** 



MINOR WORKS 437 

It is the same with time. We can always conceive of a 
greater without an ultimate, and of a less without arriving 
at a point and a pure nothingness of duration. 

That is, in a word, whatever movement, whatever number, 
whatever space, whatever time there may be, there is always 
a greater and a less than these: so that they all stand be- 
twixt nothingness and the infinite, being always infinitely dis- 
tant from these extremes. 

All these truths cannot be demonstrated; and yet they are 
the foundations and principles of geometry. But as the cause 
that renders them incapable of demonstration is not their 
obscurity, but on the contrary their extreme obviousness, this 
lack of proof is not a defect, but rather a perfection. 

From which we see that geometry can neither define 
objects nor prove principles; but for this single and 
advantageous reason that both are in an extreme natu- 
ral clearness, which convinces reason more powerfully than 
discourse. 

For what is more evident than this truth, that a number 
whatever it may be, can be increased — can be doubled? 
Again, may not the speed of a movement be doubled, and 
may not a space be doubled in the same manner? 

And who too can doubt that a number, whatever it may 
be, may not be divided into a half, and its half again into 
another half? For would this half be a nothingness? And 
would these two halves, which would be two zeros, compose 
a number? 

In the same manner, may not a movement, however slow 
it may be, be reduced in speed by a half, so that it will pass 
over the same space in double the time, and this last 
movement again? For would this be a perfect rest? And 
would these two halves of velocity, which would be two 
rests, compose again the first velocity? 

Lastly, may not a space, however small it may be, be divided 
into two, and these halves again? And how could these two 
halves become indivisible without extent, which joined to- 
gether made the former extent? 

There is no natural knowledge in mankind that precedes 
this, and surpasses it in clearness. Nevertheless, in order 
that there may be examples for every thing, we find minds, 



438 PASCAL 

excellent in all things else, that are shocked by these in- 
finities and can in no wise assent to them. 

I have never known any person who thought that a space 
could not be increased. But I have seen some, very capable 
in other respects, who affirmed that a space could be divided 
into two indivisible parts, however absurd the idea may 
seem. 

I have applied myself to investigating what could be the 
cause of this obscurity, and have found that it chiefly con- 
sisted in this, that they could not conceive of a continuity 
divisible ad infinitum, whence they concluded that it was 
not divisible. 

It is an infirmity natural to man to believe that he pos- 
sesses truth directly; and thence it comes that he is always 
disposed to deny every thing that is incomprehensible to 
him; whilst in fact he knows naturally nothing but false- 
hood, and whilst he ought to receive as true only those things 
the contrary of which appear to him as false. 

And hence, whenever a proposition is inconceivable, it is 
necessary to suspend the judgment on it and not to deny it 
from this indication, but to examine its opposite; and if this 
is found to be manifestly false, we can boldly affirm the 
former, however incomprehensible it may be. Let us apply 
this rule to our subject. 

There is no geometrician that does not believe space divisi- 
ble ad infinitum. He can no more be such without this prin- 
ciple than man can exist without a soul. And nevertheless 
there is none who comprehends an infinite division; and he 
only assures himself of this truth by this one, but certainly 
sufficient reason, that he perfectly comprehends that it is 
false that by dividing a space we can reach an indivisible 
part, .*^at, is, one that has no extent. 

For what is there more absurd than to pretend that by 
continually dividing a space, we shall finally arrive at such 
a division that on dividing it into two, each of the halves 
shall remain indivisible and without any extent, and that thus 
th^e two negations of extensions will together compose an 
extent? For I would ask those who hold this idea, whether 
they conceive clearly two indivisibles being brought into 
contact; if this is throughout, they are only the same thing, 



MINOR WORKS 439 

and consequently the two together are indivisible; and if it 
is not throughout, it is then but in a part; then they have 
parts, therefore they are not indivisible. 

If they confess, as in fact they admit when pressed, that 
their proposition is as inconceivable as the other, they ac- 
knowledge that it is not by our capacity for conceiving these 
things that we should judge of their truth, since these two 
contraries being both inconceivable, it is nevertheless neces- 
sarily certain that one of the two is true. 

But as to these chimerical difficulties, which have relation 
only to our weakness, they oppose this natural clearness and 
these solid truths: if it were true that space was composed 
of a certain finite number of indivisibles, it would follow that 
two spaces, each of which should be square, that is, equal and 
similar on every side, being the one the double of the other, 
the one would contain a number of these indivisibles double 
the number of the indivisibles of the other. Let them bear 
this consequence well in mind, and let them then apply them- 
selves to ranging points in squares until they shall have 
formed two, the one of which shall have double the points 
of the other; and then I will make every geometrician in 
the world yield to them. But if the thing is naturally im- 
possible, that is, if it is an insuperable impossibility to range 
squares of points, the one of which shall have double the 
number of the other, as I would demonstrate on the spot 
did the thing merit that we should dwell on it, let them 
draw therefrom the consequence. 

And to console them for the trouble they would have in 
certain junctures, as in conceiving that a space may have 
an infinity of divisibles, seeing that these are run over in 
so little time during which this infinity of divisibles would 
be run over, we must admonish them that they should not 
compare things so disproportionate as is the infinity of divisi- 
bles with the little time in which they are run over: but let 
them compare the entire space with the entire time, and the 
infinite divisibles of the space with the infinite moments of 
the time; and thus they will find that we pass over an 
infinity of divisibles in an infinity of moments, and a little 
space in a little time; in which there is no longer the dis- 
proportion that astonished them. 



440 PASCAL 

Lastly, if they find it surprising that a small space has as 
many parts as a great one, let them understand also that they 
are smaller in measure, and let them look at the firmament 
through a diminishing glass, to familiarize themselves with 
this knowledge, by seeing every part of the sky in every part 
of the glass. 

But if they cannot comprehend that parts so small that to 
us they are imperceptible, can be divided as often as the 
firmament, there is no better remedy than to make them look 
through glasses that magnify this delicate point to a prodi- 
gious mass; whence they will easily conceive that by the aid 
of another glass still more artistically cut, they could be 
magnified so as to equal that firmament the extent of which 
they admire. And thus these objects appearing to them now 
easily divisible, let them remember that nature can do in- 
finitely more than art. 

For, in fine, who has assured them that these glasses 
change the natural magnitude of these objects, instead of 
re-establishing, on the contrary, the true magnitude which 
the shape of our eye may change and contract like glasses 
that diminish? 

It is annoying to dwell upon such trifles; but there are 
times for trifling. 

It suffices to say to minds clear on this matter that two 
negations of extension cannot make an extension. But as 
there are some who pretend to elude this light by this mar- 
vellous answer, that two negations of extension can as well 
make an extension as two units, neither of which is a num- 
ber, can make a number by their combination ; it is necessary 
to reply to them that they might in the same manner deny 
that twenty thousand men make an army, although no single 
one of them is an army; that a thousand houses make a 
town, although no single one is a town; or that the parts 
make the whole, although no single one is the whole; or, 
to remain in the comparison of numbers, that two binaries 
make a quaternary, and ten tens a hundred, although no 
single one is such. 

But it is not to have an accurate mind to confound by 
such unequal comparisons the immutable nature of things 
with their arbitrary and voluntary names, names dependent 



MINOR WORKS 441 

upon the caprice of the men who invented them. For it is 
clear that to facilitate discourse the name of army has been 
given to twenty thousand men, that of town to several houses, 
that of ten to ten units; and that from this liberty spring 
the names of unity, binary, quaternary, ten, hundred, differ- 
ent through our caprices, although these things may be in 
fact of the same kind by their unchangeable nature, and are 
all proportionate to each other and differ only in being 
greater or less, and although, as a result of these names, 
binary may not be a quaternary, nor the house a town, any 
more than the town is a house. But again, although a house 
is not a town, it is not however a negation of a town; there 
is a great difference between not being a thing, and being 
a negation of it. 

For, in order to understand the thing to the bottom, it is 
necessary to know that the only reason why unity is not in 
the ranks of numbers, is that Euclid and the earliest authors 
who treated of arithmetic, having several properties to give 
that were applicable to all the numbers except unity, in order 
to avoid often repeating that in all niimhers except unity this 
condition is found, have excluded unity from the signification 
of the word number, by the liberty which we have already 
said can be taken at will with definitions. Thus, if they had 
wished, they could in the same manner have excluded the 
binary and ternary, and all else that it pleased them ; for we 
are master of these terms, provided we give notice of it; as 
en the contrary we may place unity when we like in the 
rank of numbers, and fractions in the same manner. And, 
in fact, we are obliged to do it in general propositions, to 
avoid saying constantly, that in all numbers, as well as in 
unity and in fractions, such a property is found; and it is in 
this indefinite sense that I have taken it in all that I have 
written on it. 

But the same Euclid who has taken away from unity the 
name of number, which it was permissible for him to do, in 
order to make it understood nevertheless that it is not a 
negation, but is on the contrary of the same species, thus 
defines homogeneous magnitudes : Magnitudes are said to be 
of the same kind, when one being multiplied several times 
may exceed the other; and consequently, since unity can, be- 



442 PASCAL 

ing multiplied several times, exceed any number whatsoever, 
it is precisely of the same kind with numbers through its 
essence and its immutable nature, in the meaning of the 
same Euclid who would not have it called a number. 

It is not the same thing with an indivisible in respect to afl 
extension. For it not only differs in name, which is volun- 
tary, but it differs in kind, by the same definition; since an 
indivisible, multiplied as many times as we like, is so far 
from being able to exceed an extension, that it can never 
form any thing else than a single and exclusive indivisible; 
which is natural and necessary, as has been already shown. 
And as this last proof is founded upon the definition of these 
two things, indivisible and extension, we will proceed to 
finish and perfect the demonstration. 

An indivisible is that which has no part, and extension is 
that which has divers separate parts. 

According to these definitions, I affirm that two indivisibles 
united do not make an extension. 

For when they are united, they touch each other in some 
part; and thus the parts whereby they come in contact are 
not separate, since otherwise they would not touch each 
other. Now, by their definition, they have no other parts; 
therefore they have no separate parts ; therefore they are not 
an extension by the definition of extension which involves 
the separation of parts. 

The same thing will be shown of all the other indivisi- 
bles that may be brought into junction, for the same reason. 
And consequently an indivisible, multiplied as many times 
as we like, will not make an extension. Therefore it is not 
of the same kind as extension, by the definition of things 
of the same kind. 

It is in this manner that we demonstrate that indivisibles 
are not of the same species as numbers. Hence it arises 
that two units may indeed make a number, because they are 
pf the same kind; and that two indivisibles do not make aK 
extension, because they are not of the same kind. 

Hence we see how little reason there is in comparing the 
relation that exists between unity and numbers with that 
which exists between indivisibles and extension. 

But if we wish to take in numbers a comparison that rep« 



MINOR WORKS 443 

resents with accuracy what we are considering in extension, 
this must be the relation of zero to numbers; for zero is not 
of the same kind as numbers, since, being multiplied, it can- 
not exceed them : so that it is the true indivisibility of num- 
ber, as indivisibility is the true zero of extension. And a 
like one will be foimd between rest and motion, and between 
an instant and time; for all these things are heterogeneous 
in their magnitudes, since being infinitely multiplied, they can 
never ma:.^ any thing else than indivisibles, any more than 
the indivisibles of extension, and for the same reason. And 
then we shall find a perfect correspondence between these 
things; for all these magnitudes are divisible ad iniinitunt, 
without ever falling into their indivisibles, so that they all 
hold a middle place between infinity and nothingness. 

Such is the admirable relation that nature has established 
between these things, and the two marvellous infinities which 
she has proposed to mankind, not to comprehend, but to 
admire; and to finish the consideration of this by a last re- 
mark, I will add that these two infinites, although infinitely 
different, are notwithstanding relative to each other, in such 
a manner that the knowledge of the one leads necessarily 
to the knowledge of the other. 

For in numbers, inasmuch as they can be continually aug- 
mented, it absolutely follows that they can be continually 
diminished, and this clearly; for if a number can be multi- 
plied to 100,000, for example, ioo,oooth part can also be 
taken from it, by dividing it by the same number by which it 
is multiplied; and thue every term of augmentation will be- 
come a term of division, by changing the whole into a frac- 
tion. So that infinite augmentation also includes necessarily 
infinite division. 

And in space the same relation is seen between these two 
contrary infinites; that is, that inasmuch as a space can be 
infinitely prolonged, it follows that it may be infinitely 
diminished, as appears in this example: If we look through 
a glass at a vessel that recedes continually in a straight line, 
it is evident that any point of the vessel observed will con- 
tinually advance by a perpetual flow in proportion as the 
ship recedes. Therefore if the course of the vessel is ex- 
tended ad infinitum, this point will continually recede; and 



444 PASCAL 

yet It will never reach that point in which the horizontal ray 
carried from the eye to the glass shall fall, so that it will 
constantly approach it without ever reaching it, unceasingly 
dividing the space which will remain under this horizontal 
point without ever arriving at it. From which is seen the 
necessary conclusion that is drawn from the infinity of the 
extension of the course of the vessel to the infinite and in- 
finitely minute division of this little space remaining beneath 
this horizontal point. 

Those who will not be satisfied with these reasons, and 
will persist in the belief that space is not divisible ad 
iniinitum, can make no pretensions to geometrical demonstra- 
tions, and although they may be enlightened in other things, 
they will be very little in this; for one can easily be a very 
capable man and a bad geometrician. 

But those who clearly perceive these truths will be able to 
admire the grandeur and power of nature in this double 
infinity that surrounds us on all sides, and to learn by this 
marvellous consideration to know themselves, in regarding 
themselves thus placed between infinitude and a negation 
of extension, between an infinitude and a negation of num- 
ber, between an Infinitude and a negation of movement, be- 
tween an infinitude and a negation of time. From which 
we may learn to estimate ourselves at our true value, and 
to form reflections which will be worth more than all the 
rest of geometry itself. 

I have thought myself obliged to enter into this long dis- 
cussion for the benefit of those who, not comprehending at 
first this double infinity, are capable of being persuaded of it. 
And although there may be many who have sufficient en- 
lightenment to dispense with it, it may nevertheless happen 
that this discourse which will be necessary to the one will 
not be entirely useless to the other. 



PREFACE TO THE TREATISE ON VACUUM 

The respect that we bear to antiquity is at the present day 
carried to such a point on subjects in which it ought to have 
less weight, that oracles are made of all its thoughts and 



MINOR WORKS 445 

mysteries, even of its obscurities; that novelties can no longer 
be advanced without peril, and that the text of an author 
suffices to destroy the strongest reasons 

Not that it is my intention to correct one error by another, 
and not to esteem the ancients at all because others have 
esteemed them too much. 

I do not pretend to banish their authority in order to exalt 
reasoning alone, although others have sought to establish 
their authority alone to the prejudice of reasoning 

To make this important distinction with care, it is neces- 
sary to consider that the former depend solely on memory 
and are purely historical, having nothing for their object 
except to know what the authors have written; the latter 
depend solely on reasoning and are entirely dogmatic, having 
for their object to seek and discover concealed truths. 

Those of the former kind are limited, inasmuch as the 
books in which they are contained 

It is according to this distinction that we must regulate 
differently the extent of this respect. The respect that we 
should have for 

In matters in which we only seek to know what the authors 
have written, as in history, geography, jurisprudence, lan- 
guages, and especially in theology; and in fine in all those 
which have for their principle either simple facts or divine 
or human institutions, we must necessarily have recourse to 
their books, since all that we can know of them is therein 
contained; hence it is evident that we can have full knowl- 
edge of them, and that it is not possible to add any thing 
thereto. 

If it is in question to know who was the first king of the 
French; in what spot geographers place the first meridian; 
what words are used In a dead language, and all things of this 
nature; what other means than books can guide is to them? 
And who can add any thing new to what they teajh us, since 
we wish only to know what they contain? 

Authority alone can enlighten us on these. But the sub- 
ject in which authority has the principal weight is theology, 
because there she is inseparable from truth, and we know it 
only through her: so that to give full certainty to matters 
incomprehensible to reason, it suffices to show them in the 



446 PASCAL 

sacred books; as to show the uncertainty of the most prob- 
able things, it IS only necessary to show that they are not 
included therein; since its principles are superior to nature 
and reason, and since, the mind of man being too weak to 
attain them by its own efforts, he cannot reach these lofty 
conceptions if he be not carried thither by an omnipotent 
and superhuman power. 

It is not the same with subjects that fall under the senses 
and under reasoning; authority here is useless; it belongs 
to reason alone to know them. They have their separate 
rights: there the one has all the advantage, here the other 
reigns in turn. But as subjects of this kind are proportioned 
to the grasp of the mind, it finds full liberty to extend them ; 
its inexhaustible fertility produces continually, and its in- 
ventions may be multiplied altogether without limit and 
without interruption 

It is thus that geometry, arithmetic, music, physics, medi- 
cine, architecture, and all the sciences that are subject to 
experiment and reasoning, should be augmented in order to 
become perfect The ancients found them merely outlined 
by those who preceded them; and we shall leave them to 
those who will come after us in a more finished state than 
we received tkera. 

As their perfection depends on time and pains, it is evi- 
dent that although our pains and time may have acquired less 
than their labors separate fiom ours, both joined together 
must nevertheless have more effect than each one alone. 

The clearing up of this difference should make us pity the 
blindness of those who bring authority alone as proof in 
physical matters, instead of reasoning or experiments; and 
inspire us with horror for the wickedness of others who 
make usG of reasoning alone in theology, instead of the 
authority of the Scripture and the Fathers, We must raise 
the courage of those timid people who dare invent nothing in 
physics, and confound the insolence of those rash persons 
who produce novelties in theology. Nevertheless the mis- 
fortune of the age is such, that we see many new opinions 
in theology, unknown to all antiquity, maintained with ob- 
stinacy and received with applause; whilst those that are 
produced in physics, though small in number, should, it seems. 



MmOR WORKS 447 

be convicted of falsehood as soon as they shock already 
received opinions in the slightest degree; as if the respect 
that we have for the ancient philosophers were a duty, 
and that which we bear to the most ancient of the Fathers 
solely a matter of courtesy! I leave it to judicious persons 
to remark the importance of this abuse which perverts the 
order of the sciences with so much injustice; and I think 
that there will be few who will not wish that this liberty^ 
might be applied to other matters, since new inventions are 
infallible errors in the matters* which we profane with 
impunity; and since they are absolutely necessary for the 
perfection of so many other subjects incomparably lower, 
which nevertheless we dare not approach. 

Let us divide our credulity and suspicion with more jus- 
tice, and limit this respect we have for the ancients. As 
reason gives it birth, she ought also to measure it; and lot 
us consider that if they had continued in this restraint of 
not daring to add any thing to the knowledge which they had 
received, or if those of their times had made the like diffi- 
culty in receiving the novelties which they offered them, 
they would have deprived themselves and their posterity of 
the fruit of their inventions. 

As they only made use of that which had been bequeathed 
to them as a means whereby to gain more, and as this happy 
daring opened to them the way to great things, we should 
take that which they acquired in the same manner, and by 
their example, make of it the means and not the end of our 
study, and thus strive while imitating to surpass them. 

For what is more unjust than to treat our ancestors with 
more deference than they showed to those who preceded 
them, and to have for them that Inviolable respect which 
they have only merited from us because they had not the 
like for those who possessed the same advantage over 
them ? , , 

The secrets of nature are concealed ; although she is con- 
tinually working, we do not always discover her effects : time 
reveals them from age to age, and although always alike in 
herself she is not always alike known, 

'The word here underlined, which we restore by conjecture. Is blank ia 
die MS.—FaHgere. 
* Here seems to be needed iheoioaicai nuatersr'—'Jbid, 



448 PASCAL 

The experiments that give us the knowledge of these 
secrets are muhiplied continually; and as they are the sole 
principles of physics, the consequences are multiplied in pro- 
portion. 

It is in this manner that we may at the present day adopt 
different sentiments and new opinions, without despising 
the ancients an(f without ingratitude, since the first knowl- 
edge which they have given us has served as a stepping- 
stone to our own, and since in these advantages we are in- 
debted to them for our ascendency over them ; because being 
raised by their aid to a certain degree, the slightest effort 
causes us to mount still higher, and with less pains and less 
glory we find ourselves above them. Thence it is that we 
are enabled to discover things which it was impossible for 
them to perceive. Our view is more extended, and although 
they knew as well as we all that they could observe in 
nature, they did not, nevertheless, know it so well, and we 
see more than they. 

Yet it is marvellous in what manner their sentiments are 
revered. It is made a crime to contradict them and an act of 
treason to add to them, as though they had left no more 
truths to be known. 

Is not this to treat unworthily the reason of man and to 
put it on a level with the instinct of animals, since we take 
away the principal difference between them, which is that the 
effects of reason accumulate without ceasing, whilst instinct 
remains always in the same state? The cells of the bees 
were as correctly measured a thousand years ago as to-day, 
and each formed a hexagon as exactly the first time as the 
last. It is the same with all that the animals produce by 
this occult impulse. Nature instructs them in proportion as 
necessity impels them; but this fragile science is lost with 
the wants which give it birth: as they received it without 
study, they have not the happiness of preserving it; and 
every time it is given them it is new to them, since the 
. . . nature having for her object nothing but the 
maintenance of animals in a limited order of perfection, she 
inspires them with this necessary science . . . always 

3 Break of two or three words in the MS. We supply them by the 
i/vords italicized.— -Faugere. 



MINOR WORKS 449 

the same, lest they may fall into decay, and does not permit 
them to add to it, lest they should exceed the limits that 
she has prescribed to them. It is not the same with man, 
who is formed only for infinity. He is ignorant at the ear- 
liest age of his life; but he is instructed unceasingly in his 
progress; for he derives advantage, not only from his own 
experience, but also from that of his predecessors; since 
he always retains in his memory the knowledge which he 
himself has once acquired, and since he has that of the 
ancients ever present in the books which they have be- 
queathed to him. And as he preserves this knowledge, he 
can also add to it easily; so that men are at the present day 
in some sort in the same condition in which those ancient 
philosophers would have been found, could they have sur- 
vived till the present time, adding to the knowledge which 
they possessed that which their studies would have acquired 
by the aid of so many centuries. Thence it is that by an 
especial prerogative, not only does each man advance from 
llay to day in the sciences, but all mankind together make 
continual progress in proportion as the world grows older, 
since the same thing happens in the succession of men as in 
the different ages of single individuals. So that the whole 
succession of men, during the course of many ages, should 
be considered as a single man who subsists forever and learns 
continually, whence we see with what injustice we respect 
antiquity in philosophers; for as old age is that period of 
life most remote from infancy, who does not see that old age 
in this universal man ought not to be sought in the times 
nearest his birth, but in those the most remote from it? 
Those whom we call ancient were really new in all things, 
and properly constituted the infancy of mankind; and as we 
have joined to their knowledge the experience of the cen- 
turies which have followed them, it is in ourselves that we 
should find this antiquity that we revere in others. 

They should be admired for the results which they de- 
rived from the very few principles they possessed, and they 
should be excused for those in which they failed rather from 
the lack of the advantage of experience than the strength of 
reasoning. 

For were they not excusable in the idea that they enter- 

HC XLVIII (o) 



150 PASCAL 

tained of the milky way, when, the weakness of their vision 
not having yet received the assistance of art, they attributed 
this color to a greater density in that part of the heavens 
which reflected the light more strongly? But would we not 
be inexcusable for remaining in the same opinion, now that, 
by the aid of the advantages procured us by the telescope, 
we have discovered in it an infinite number of small stars, 
whose more abundant splendor has revealed to us the true 
cause of this whiteness! 

Had they not also cause for saying that all corruptible 
bodies were inclosed within the orbit of the moon, when, 
during the course of so many ages they had not yet re- 
marked either corruption or generation outside of this space? 

But ought we not to be assured of the contrary, when the 
whole world has manifestly beheld comets kindle and disap- 
pear far beyond the limits of that sphere? 

In the same way, in respect to vacuum, they had a right to 
say that nature would not suffer it, since all their experiments 
had always made them remark that she abhorred, and could 
not suffer it 

But if the modern experiments had been known to them, 
perhaps they would have found cause for affirming what 
they found cause for denying, for the reason that vacuum 
had not yet appeared. Thus, in the judgment they formed 
that nature would not suffer vacuum, they only heard nature 
spoken of in the condition in which they knew her ; since, to 
speak in general terms, it would not have been sufficient to 
have seen it constantly in a hundred cases, a thousand, or any 
other number, however great it may have been; since, if a 
single case remained unexamined, this alone would suffice 
to prevent the general definition, and if a single one was 

contrary, this alone 

For in all matters the proof of which consists in experiments, 
and not in demonstrations, we can make no universal asser- 
tion, except by the general enumeration of all the parts and 
all the different cases. Thus it is that when we say that the 
diamond is the hardest of all bodies, we mean of all the 
bodies with which we are acquainted, and we neither can nor 
ought to comprehend in this assertion those with which we 
are not acquainted ; and when we say that gold is the heaviest 



MINOR WORKS 451 

of all bodies, we should be presumptuous to comprehend in 
this general proposition those which have not yet come to 
our knowledge, although it is not impossible that they may 
exist in nature. 

In the same manner, when the ancients affirmed that 
nature would not suffer a vacuum, they meant that she 
would not suffer it in any of the experiments they had seen, 
and they could not, without temerity, comprehend in it those 
which had not come to their knowledge. Had they done so, 
they would doubtless have drawn from them the same con- 
clusions, and would, by their acknowledgment, have sanc- 
tioned them by this antiquity which it is sought at present to 
make the sole principle of the sciences. 

Thus it is that, without contradicting them, we can affirm 
the contrary of what they say; and, whatever authority, in 
fine, this antiquity may have, truth should always have 
more, although newly discovered, since she is always older 
than all the opinions that we have had of her, and it would 
be showing ourselves ignorant of her nature to imagine 
that she may have begun to be at the time when she began 
to be known. 



NEW FRAGMENT OF THE TREATISE ON VACUUM 

What is there more absurd than to say that inanimate 
bodies have passions, fears, horrors; that insensible bodies, 
without life, and even incapable of it, may have passions 
which presuppose a soul at least sensitive to experience 
them? Besides, if the object of this horror were a vacuum, 
what is there in a vacuum that could make them afraid? 
What is there meaner and more ridiculous? 

This is not all; if they have in themselves a principle of 
motion to shun a vacuum, have they arms, legs, muscles, 
nerves ? 



THE PUBLISHERS OF THE HAR- 
VARD CLASSICS • DR. ELIOT'S 
FIVE-FOOT SHELF OF BOOKS • ARE 
PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE 
PUBLICATION OF 

THE JUNIOR CLASSICS 

A LIBRARY FOR BOYS AND GIRLS 

The Junior Classics constitute a set 
of books whose contents will delight 
children and at the same time 
satisfy the legitimate ethical require- 
ments of those who have the children's 
best interests at heart." 

CHARLES W. ELIOT 



THE COLLIER PRESS • NEW YORK 
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